Nobel Prize in Physics

Nobel Prize in Physics

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The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

. It is one of the five Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

s established by the will of Alfred Nobel
Alfred Nobel
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He is the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments...

 in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 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,...

, Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

, Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

. The first Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was a German physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901....

, a German, "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays (or x-rays)." This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation
Nobel Foundation
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....

 and widely regarded as the most prestigious award that a scientist can receive in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

. It is presented in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.

Background


Alfred Nobel
Alfred Nobel
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He is the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments...

 requested 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
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, peace, physiology
Physiology
Physiology is the science of the function of living systems. This includes how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells, and bio-molecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. The highest honor awarded in physiology is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or...

 or medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

, and literature. 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
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 on 27 November 1895. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million Swedish kronor
Swedish krona
The krona has been the currency of Sweden since 1873. Both the ISO code "SEK" and currency sign "kr" are in common use; the former precedes or follows the value, the latter usually follows it, but especially in the past, it sometimes preceded the value...

 (US$186 million in 2008), to establish and endow the five Nobel Prizes. Due to the level of skepticism surrounding the will it was not until April 26, 1897 that it was approved by the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament). The executors of his will were Ragnar Sohlman
Ragnar Sohlman
Ragnar Sohlman was a Swedish chemical engineer, manager, civil servant, and creator of the Nobel Foundation.- Biography :...

 and Rudolf Lilljequist, who formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel's fortune and organise the prizes.

The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee who 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. 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
Oscar II of Sweden
Oscar II , baptised Oscar Fredrik was King of Sweden from 1872 until his death and King of Norway from 1872 until 1905. The third son of King Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg, he was a descendant of Gustav I of Sweden through his mother.-Early life:At his birth in Stockholm, Oscar...

. According to Nobel's will, The Royal Swedish Academy of sciences were to award the Prize in Physics.

Nomination and selection


A maximum of three Nobel laureates and two different works may be selected for the Nobel Prize in Physics. Compared with some other Nobel Prizes, the nomination and selection process for the prize in Physics is long and rigorous. This is a key reason it has grown in importance over the years to become the most important prize in Physics.

The Nobel laureates are selected by the Nobel Committee for Physics
Nobel Committee for Physics
The Nobel Committee for Physics is the Nobel Committee responsible for proposing laureates for the Nobel Prize for Physics. The Nobel Committee for Physics is appointed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences...

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

 that consists of five members elected by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In the first stage, several thousand people are asked to nominate candidates. These names are scrutinized and discussed by experts until the choice is made.

Forms are sent to about three thousand 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 narrow it down to approximately fifteen names. The committee submits a report with recommendations to the appropriate institution.

While posthumous nominations are not permitted, awards can be made if the individual died in the months between the decision of the prize committee (typically in October) and the ceremony in December. Prior to 1974, posthumous awards were permitted if the recipient had died after being nominated.

The Nobel Prize in Physics requires that 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. For example, half of the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, FRS ) was an Indian origin American astrophysicist who, with William A. Fowler, won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for key discoveries that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars...

 for his work on stellar structure and evolution that was done during the 1930s. 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 appreciated.

Prizes


A Physics Nobel Prize laureate earns a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money. The amount of money awarded depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation that year. If a prize is awarded to more than one laureate, the money is either split evenly among them or, for three laureates, it may be divided into a half and two quarters. If a prize is awarded jointly to two or more laureates, the money is split among them.

Medals


The Nobel Prize medals, minted by Myntverket
Myntverket
Myntverket is a private Swedish company that produces coins and medals, most notably the Swedish national coins and the Nobel Prize medals. As of 2008, Swedish coins are now minted by Myntverket's parent company, Mint of Finland Ltd in Helsinki, Finland, ending a 1012 year history of minting...

 in Sweden and the Mint of Norway since 1902, are registered trademarks of the Nobel Foundation. Each medal has 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. 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.

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.

Award money


The laureate is also given a sum of money when they receive the Nobel Prize in the form of a document confirming the amount awarded; in 2009, the monetary award was 10 million SEK (US$1.4 million). The amount may differ depending on how much money the Nobel Foundation can award that year. If there are two winners in a particular category, the award grant is divided equally between the recipients. If there are three, the awarding committee has the option of dividing the grant equally, or awarding one-half to one recipient and one-quarter to each of the others.

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 10 December, the anniversary of 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. ... Under the eyes of a watching world, the Nobel Laureate receives three things: a diploma, a medal and a document confirming the prize amount" ("What the Nobel Laureates Receive").

The Nobel Banquet is held every year in Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall
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...

 in connection with the Nobel Prize.

See also

  • List of Nobel laureates in Physics
  • Sakurai Prize
    Sakurai Prize
    The J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics, is presented by the American Physical Society at its annual "April Meeting", and honors outstanding achievement in particle physics theory...

    , presented by the American Physical Society

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