by Meghna Kumar
Since the first Nobel Prize was given out in 1901, it has garnered attention from the media and people around the world. The prize was created in 1896, when Alfred Nobel (the Swedish chemist and engineer who invented dynamite) bequeathed approximately $260 million of his fortune to create prizes to appreciate a diverse set of scientific and cultural advances by people or organizations around the world.
The five categories for Nobel Prizes are: Chemistry, Physics, Peace, Literature, and Physiology/Medicine. The only criterion for selection is that winners must be living, and a single Nobel Prize may not be shared by more than three people unless it is given to an entire organization. Additionally, there is no set limit on how many prizes an individual or organization can receive.
This year’s winners are:
Physiology/Medicine: William Campbell of Ireland and Satoshi Omura and of Japan, who developed a drug that has reduced illnesses caused by parasitic worms. Eighty-four year old Tu Youyou developed a drug that has slashed the number of deaths from malaria.
Physics: Japan’s Takaaki Kajita of Japan and Canada’s Arthur McDonald of Canada, who discovered neutrino oscillations. Tomas Lindahl of Sweden, Paul Modrich of the US, and Aziz Sancar also received prizes for their “mechanistic studies of DNA repair.”
Literature: Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus , who created literature detailing the Soviet Union and its collapse during World War II, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the suicides that resulted from the death of communism.
Peace: The National Dialogue Quartet, which is comprised of four organizations: the Tunisian General Labour Union; Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; Tunisian Human Rights League; and Tunisian Order of Lawyers earned the Peace Prize for attempting to bring democracy to Tunisia in 2011. Additionally, they coordinated many pro-democracy movements throughout Arab nations.
Economics: Angus Deaton of Scotland won for “his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare.” His work involved “How do consumers distribute their spending among different goods; how much of society’s income is spent and how much is saved; and how do we best measure and analyze welfare and poverty?”