Nobel Prizes are awarded in six fields: Peace, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Economic Sciences, none of which the Sip Advisor excels in, but I’ve made peace with my shortcomings, even if all you little sippers have not. The host country for the ceremony is Sweden (home to prize creator Alfred Nobel), except for the Peace Prize which is presented in Norway. Nobel, also the inventor of dynamite, is said to have created the awards to leave a better legacy after his condemnable obituary was accidentally printed in France (nothing good ever comes out of there!) following the death of his brother. Let’s take a look at the awards and see if Nobel’s image has indeed been altered:
The first awards ceremony took place in 1901, five years after Nobel passed away… for reals this time. Since then, the event is held annually on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death. Prizes don’t have to be handed out each year for every category, but each award must be tendered at a minimum of every five years. Throughout World War II (1939-43), no Nobel Prize events were held.
Nobel wrote the final draft of his will, including the Nobel Prize request on a torn piece of paper. The process was witnessed by four associates, as Nobel didn’t trust lawyers… I can’t really blame him given Mrs. Sip is one and I sleep with one eye open every night! Also, Nobel never bothered to ask any of the bodies he expected to govern the awards, whether this was something they were cool with. Nobel’s family contested the will after finding out they were shit out of luck and the cash would go towards awards for strangers. Clearly, the appeals did not work out.
There are anywhere between 100-250 nominees for each category. A person who has died can’t be nominated and will also be removed from contention if they pass away during the consideration process. If a person was selected as a winner before expiring, they are still eligible to win posthumously that year. A maximum of three people can win any one award.
The Nobel Prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma and money. The financial award comes from interest from Nobel’s estate (and varies each year), which is looked after by the Nobel Foundation. Prize winners are called laureates… another title you will never see beside the Sip Advisor’s name… although I’m still working on that Chemistry award with Mrs. Sip! Apparently, the cash awarded in 2013 was $1.2 million US per prize. Damn, Mrs. Sip and I really need to get that chemistry diorama finished!
While most of the prizes are well-deserved, some have been followed by protest, particularly over the Peace Prize. Some of the most controversial prize recipients include Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, who were awarded the Peace Prize in 1973 for negotiating a ceasefire between North Vietnam and the U.S., although both nations were still hostile towards one another. Similarly, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin were handed the 1994 Peace Prize following their efforts towards harmony between Israel and Palestine, but many issues remained unsettled between the two nations. Lastly, Barack Obama’s 2009 Peace Price was controversial in that he had only been in office for 11 days when nominations closed. Obama went on to say that he was undeserving of the award.
Not every Nobel Prize winner has accepted the honour. Jean-Paul Sartre refused the Literature Award in 1964, sticking with his credo to not accept any official honours (but unofficial ones were okay) and the previously mentioned Le Duc Tho declined that controversial 1973 Peace Prize, given the ongoing strife in Vietnam.
As of the 2013 ceremonies, there have been 561 Nobel Prizes awarded to 876 recipients. Only 45 of those winners have been women. The youngest recipient ever was Lawrence Bragg (1915) for physics, at the age of 25, although he did win with his father (there’s nothing like riding someone else’s coattails). The oldest was Leonid Hurwicz (2007) for economic sciences, at the ripe age of 90. The Red Cross has won three separate times (1917, 1944 and 1963). Linus Pauling and Marie Curie each won two Nobel Prizes in different categories, while John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger received two prizes in the same discipline.
Inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla never won Nobel Prizes. They were offered a joint prize, but the committee quickly rescinded the offer upon realizing that the two competitors despised one another and refused to be anywhere near each other. The same goes for Mrs. Sip and I, but I’m pretty sure the prize money would be enough of a draw for us to put aside our differences for one night.
Antonio Moniz was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1949 for his work involving prefrontal lobotomies as a treatment for schizophrenia. The practice was abolished in the 1960’s and is now looked upon with much criticism. A similar Medicine Prize debacle (retrospectively) occurred in 1926 when Johannes Fibiger received the award for “finding a cure for cancer.” It’s truly too bad that didn’t work out as well as hoped or expected.
When Robert E. Lucas won the Economics Prize in 1997 for his theory of rational expectations, his ex-wife was perhaps happier than he was. Her lawyer had actually written a clause into their divorce settlement for such an occasion and Lucas was forced to share his $1 million award with her. He may have been a prize-winning economist, but he clearly wasn’t good with contracts.
We’ll end things off with this little factoid, before retiring to the post-awards gala for nibbles and drinks: Oddly enough, eight different Nobel Prize recipients were born on February 28th. I think the fix is in!
Sweden: Unforgettable Night
- 2 oz Absolut Vodka
- 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
- Top with Coconut Milk
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Dash of Hot Sauce
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge and Coconut
Mrs. Sip and I, along with members of the Sip Syndicate visited the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden and had a great time learning about the history of the awards and many of the recipients. I’ll be back one day to accept my long-awaited prize… or, at the very least, to steal one!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
When searching for a drink to combine with this post, I stumbled upon this incredibly interesting recipe (Coconut Milk, Lime Juice and Hot Sauce!) that had the perfect name to suit the article. I was very curious going in about how this would taste and it was pretty decent with a bit of flame at the end. The Lime Juice caused some slight curdling, but not enough to disgust the drinker.