6 Things You Didn't Know About the Nobel Prize

Three laureates received the award in prison
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2015 10:43 AM CDT
6 Things You Didn't Know About the Nobel Prize
Scientist William Campbell talks on the phone in his home in North Andover, Mass., Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. Campbell is one of three scientists who won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday.   (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Nobel week is upon us again, having kicked off Monday with the award for medicine. Scientific American compiled a dozen surprising facts about the history of the prizes, established by the wealthy Swedish industrialist who happened to invent dynamite. Here are six standouts from its list:

  1. 860 laureates and 25 organizations have won the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2014, and four laureates won twice. Linus Pauling, however, stands alone as the only person to win an unshared Nobel twice—first in 1954 in chemistry, and second in 1962 in peace, per the Nobel Foundation.

  1. Three winners were in prison when they won. German journalist Carl von Ossietzky, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi, and Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo all won the peace prize.
  2. Only two prizes have been sold during a laureate's life, and both in the past year. One was 1988 physics winner, Leon Lederman, who auctioned his prize for $765,000 to cover medical expenses.
  3. The average age of Nobel laureates is 59, with the oldest winner being Leonid Hurwicz, who won in economics in 2007 at the age of 90. The youngest winner, Malala Yousafzai, won the Peace Prize in 2014 at 17.
  4. It can take decades to be recognized—two to three on average. But in 1966, Peyton Rous won the medicine prize for work he did 50 years earlier on viruses that can cause tumors.
  5. After awarding the prize to two dead people, the Nobel Foundation decided in the 1970s to no longer hand out prizes posthumously. But in 2011, Ralph Steinman won the prize in medicine three days after he died—the judges hadn't known, and decided to let it stand.
For the full list, head over to Scientific American. (More Nobel Prize stories.)

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