Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Last updated
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize.png
Awarded forOutstanding contributions in chemistry
Location Stockholm, Sweden
Presented by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Reward(s)9 million SEK (2017) [1]
First awarded1901
Currently held by Frances Arnold, George P. Smith and Gregory Winter (2018)
Most awards Frederick Sanger (2)
Website nobelprize.org

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Swedish: Nobelpriset i kemi) is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation, and awarded by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on proposal of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry which consists of five members elected by Academy. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the royal academies of Sweden. It is an independent, non-governmental scientific organisation which takes special responsibility for the natural sciences and mathematics, but endeavours to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.

Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with elements and compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a reaction with other substances.

Nobel Prize set of annual international awards, primarily 5 established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.

Contents

The first Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded in 1901 to Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff, of the Netherlands, "for his discovery of the laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions." From 1901 to 2018, the award has been bestowed on a total of 180 individuals. [2]

Jacobus Henricus van t Hoff Dutch physical and organic chemist

Jacobus Henricus "Henry" van 't Hoff, Jr. was a Dutch physical chemist. A highly influential theoretical chemist of his time, van 't Hoff was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His pioneering work helped found the modern theory of chemical affinity, chemical equilibrium, chemical kinetics, and chemical thermodynamics. In his 1874 pamphlet van 't Hoff formulated the theory of the tetrahedral carbon atom and laid the foundations of stereochemistry. In 1875, he predicted the correct structures of allenes and cumulenes as well as their axial chirality. He is also widely considered one of the founders of physical chemistry as the discipline is known today.

Osmotic pressure

Osmotic pressure is the minimum pressure which needs to be applied to a solution to prevent the inward flow of its pure solvent across a semipermeable membrane. It is also defined as the measure of the tendency of a solution to take in pure solvent by osmosis. Potential osmotic pressure is the maximum osmotic pressure that could develop in a solution if it were separated from its pure solvent by a semipermeable membrane.

Background

Alfred Nobel stipulated in his last will and testament that his money be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind" in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature. [3] [4] Though Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime, the last was written a little over a year before he died, and signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895. [5] [6] Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million Swedish kronor (US$198 million, 176 million in 2016), to establish and endow the five Nobel Prizes. [7] Due to the level of skepticism surrounding the will, it was not until April 26, 1897 that it was approved by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). [8] [9] The executors of his will were Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, who formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel's fortune and organise the prizes.

Alfred Nobel Swedish chemist, innovator, and armaments manufacturer

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist.

Physics study of matter and its motion, along with related concepts such as energy and force

Physics is the natural science that studies matter and its motion and behavior through space and time and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

Peace state of harmony characterized by lack of violent conflict and freedom from fear of violence

Peace is the concept of harmonious well-being and freedom from hostile aggression. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or heterogeneous groups.

The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that were to award the Peace Prize were appointed shortly after the will was approved. The prize-awarding organisations followed: the Karolinska Institutet on June 7, the Swedish Academy on June 9, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on June 11. [10] [11] The Nobel Foundation then reached an agreement on guidelines for how the Nobel Prize should be awarded. In 1900, the Nobel Foundation's newly created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II. [9] [12] [13] According to Nobel's will, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences were to award the Prize in Chemistry. [13]

Nobel Peace Prize One of five Nobel Prizes established by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

Swedish Academy Swedish Royal Academy

The Swedish Academy, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. It has 18 members, who are elected for life. The academy makes the annual decision on who will be the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded in memory of the donor Alfred Nobel.

Statute formal written document that creates law, including acts, executive orders, and by-laws

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a city, state, or country. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies.

Award ceremony

The committee and institution serving as the selection board for the prize typically announce the names of the laureates in October. The prize is then awarded at formal ceremonies held annually on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. "The highlight of the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm is when each Nobel Laureate steps forward to receive the prize from the hands of His Majesty the King of Sweden. The Nobel Laureate receives three things: a diploma, a medal and a document confirming the prize amount" ("What the Nobel Laureates Receive"). Later the Nobel Banquet is held in Stockholm City Hall.

Stockholm City Hall municipal building in Stockholm, Sweden

The Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm in Sweden. It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden's northern shore and facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. It houses offices and conference rooms as well as ceremonial halls, and the luxury restaurant Stadshuskällaren. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and is one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions.

A maximum of three laureates and two different works may be selected. The award can be given to a maximum of three recipients per year. It consists of a gold medal, a diploma, and a cash grant.

Nomination and selection

In 1901 Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (1852-1911) received the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Vant Hoff.jpg
In 1901 Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (1852–1911) received the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The Nobel Laureates in chemistry are selected by a committee that consists of five members elected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In its first stage, several thousand people are asked to nominate candidates. These names are scrutinized and discussed by experts until only the laureates remain. This slow and thorough process, is arguably what gives the prize its importance.

Forms, which amount to a personal and exclusive invitation, are sent to about three thousand selected individuals to invite them to submit nominations. The names of the nominees are never publicly announced, and neither are they told that they have been considered for the Prize. Nomination records are sealed for fifty years. In practice, some nominees do become known. It is also common for publicists to make such a claim – founded or not.

The nominations are screened by committee, and a list is produced of approximately two hundred preliminary candidates. This list is forwarded to selected experts in the field. They remove all but approximately fifteen names. The committee submits a report with recommendations to the appropriate institution.

While posthumous nominations are not permitted, awards can occur if the individual died in the months between the nomination and the decision of the prize committee.

The award in chemistry requires the significance of achievements being recognized is "tested by time." In practice it means that the lag between the discovery and the award is typically on the order of 20 years and can be much longer. As a downside of this approach, not all scientists live long enough for their work to be recognized. Some important scientific discoveries are never considered for a Prize, as the discoverers may have died by the time the impact of their work is realized. For example, the contributions of Rosalind Franklin in discovering the structure of DNA: her x-ray crystallography citing the shape of DNA as a helix, were not realized until after her death, and the recipients of the prize were Watson, Crick, and Wilkins.

Prizes

A Chemistry Nobel Prize laureate earns a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money. [14]

Nobel Prize medals

The Nobel Prize medals, minted by Myntverket [15] in Sweden and the Mint of Norway since 1902, are registered trademarks of the Nobel Foundation. Each medal feature an image of Alfred Nobel in left profile on the obverse (front side of the medal). The Nobel Prize medals for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature have identical obverses, showing the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833–1896). Nobel's portrait also appears on the obverse of the Nobel Peace Prize medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economics, but with a slightly different design. [16] [17] The image on the reverse of a medal varies according to the institution awarding the prize. The reverse sides of the Nobel Prize medals for Chemistry and Physics share the same design. [18]

Nobel Prize diplomas

Nobel laureates receive a diploma directly from the hands of the King of Sweden. Each diploma is uniquely designed by the prize-awarding institutions for the laureate that receives it. The diploma contains a picture and text which states the name of the laureate and normally a citation of why they received the prize. [19]

Award money

At the awards ceremony, the laureate is given a document indicating the award sum. The amount of the cash award may differ from year to year, based on the funding available from the Nobel Foundation. For example, in 2009 the total cash awarded was 10 million SEK (US$1.4 million), [20] but in 2012, the amount was 8 million Swedish Krona, or US$1.1 million. [21] If there are two laureates in a particular category, the award grant is divided equally between the recipients, but if there are three, the awarding committee may opt to divide the grant equally, or award half to one recipient and a quarter to each of the two others. [22] [23] [24] [25]

Laureates

Scope of award

In recent years, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry has drawn criticism from chemists who feel that the prize is more frequently awarded to non-chemists than to chemists. [26] In the 30 years leading up to 2012, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded ten times for work classified as biochemistry or molecular biology, and once to a materials scientist. In the ten years leading up to 2012, only four prizes were for work that is strictly in chemistry. [26] Commenting on the scope of the award, The Economist explained that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is bound by Nobel's bequest, which specifies awards only in physics, chemistry, literature, medicine, and peace. Biology was in its infancy in Nobel's day, suggesting why no award was established. The Economist argued there is no Nobel Prize for mathematics either, another major discipline, and added that Nobel's stipulation of no more than three winners is not readily applicable to modern physics, where progress is typically made through huge collaborations rather than by individual scientists. [27]

See also

Related Research Articles

Nobel Prize in Physics One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for humankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine One of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded yearly for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in his will in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel was interested in experimental physiology and wanted to establish a prize for scientific progress through laboratory discoveries. The Nobel Prize is presented at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death, along with a diploma and a certificate for the monetary award. The front side of the medal displays the same profile of Alfred Nobel depicted on the medals for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature. The reverse side is unique to this medal. The most recent Nobel prize was announced by Karolinska Institute on 1 October 2018, and has been awarded to American James P. Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo – for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.

Nobel Foundation private institution managing the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes

The Nobel Foundation is a private institution founded on 29 June 1900 to manage the finances and administration of the Nobel Prizes. The Foundation is based on the last will of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.

Nobel Committee

A Nobel Committee is a working body responsible for most of the work involved in selecting Nobel Prize laureates. There are five Nobel Committees, one for each Nobel Prize.

Nobel Prize in Literature One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Literature is a Swedish literature prize that is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction". Though individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is based on an author's body of work as a whole. The Swedish Academy decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize. The academy announces the name of the laureate in early October. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. It was not awarded in 2018, but two names will be awarded in 2019.

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics, and generally regarded as the most prestigious award for that field. The award's official name is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

References

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