Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun Nobel Prize Facts

· The Nobel Prize is awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace (not economics, see below).

· The peace prize is selected by a committee of 5 people appointed by Swedish politicians.

· The other 3 prizes are awarded exclusively by Swedish Academies.

· Its unclear how an all Swedish Committee picks among works or scientific pieces not written in English or whether a single member of the the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature read Imre Kertesz in his original Hungarian (2002), Gao Xingjianin (2000) in his original Chinese or Orhan Pamuk in his original Turkish.

· One Swedish Committee member (all of whom are appointed for life), after receiving a savage review of his book in the New York Times, said that American writers are "too insular," "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture" and too ignorant to write good books and doesn’t think any American authors can win the prize.

· 3 Swedish committee members were investigated after receiving a luxurous “fact finding” trip to China, paid for by the Chinese government.

· 6 Indians have won Nobel prizes (I’m not including VS Naipul).

· 4 Japanese physicists have won the Physics prize (1949, 1965, and 2 shared in 2008); 4 Japanese have won the Chemistry Prize (1981, 2000, 2001, 2002); 2 Japanese writers have won the literature prize (1968, 1994); a Japanese doctor won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1987).

· A Vietnamese, a Tibetan, a Japanese, a Burmese, 2 Timorese, a South Korean, and a Bangladeshi have all won Nobel Peace Prizes.

· Nobel Prizes for Peace have gone to Rigoberta Menchu Tum (who fabricated her autobiography), Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissenger & Lu Doc Tho. Al Gore won a peace prize, but not for bombing Serbia or Afghanistan and not for doing nothing with Sudan and Rwanda.

· The Nobel prize for literature is pretty much the Oscars- some deserving winners, lots of overlooked classics and plenty of immediately forgotten works- picked by a very small group of Swedes. Politics seems to be very important.

· Can you name a work from these past 15 winners? Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (2008), Doris Lessing (2007), Orhan Pamuk (2006), Harold Pinter (2005), Elfriede Jelinek (2004), J. M. Coetzee (2003) Imre Kertesz (2002), V. S. Naipaul (2001), Gao Xingjian (2000), Gunter Grass (before he admitted his membership in Nazi organizations)(1999), Jose Saramago (1998), Dario Fo (1997), Wislawa Szymborska (1996), Seamus Heaney (1995), Kenzaburo Oe (1994). (I could only name the works of 1).

· Der Spiegel wrote, “By selecting exotic token choices and veteran compromise candidates, all the selection committee has succeeded in doing is to put literature editors under a lot of pressure to find anyone who knows of or can even remember the winner after the judgments have been announced in Sweden.”

· None of Faulkner’s works were in print in American when he won his nobel prize.

· Past laureates include eugenicists, Nazi party members and a guy who claimed that September 11 attacks were a republiKKKan conspiracy.

· In 1926 the prize for Medicine of Physiology went to the man who discovered that roundworms cause cancer.

· In 1927 the same prize went to a psychiatrist for his treament of syphilitic dementia by injecting patients with malaria.

· The 1949 the same prize went to the neurologist who pioneered the use of lobotomies for treating of schizophrenia.

· There is no Nobel Prize in economics. However, Sweden’s central bank—not the Nobel Committee- established the “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. Four descendants of Alfred Nobel have unsuccessfully tried to de-link the Bank’s prize from Nobel’s name.

· The recipients of the Swedish Central Bank’s prize in memory of Alfred Nobel often take a dim view of their “science”. Hayek’s speech was on the “pretence of knowledge” and Vernon Smith seconded him. Paul Krugman believes the entire profession has been off its rocker since the 1930s. Krugman has no economics based theory on what just occurred or how to prevent it from happening again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

dy-no-miite! better legacy than the winchester house I guess.