Why aren't there more Nobel Prize categories?

Curious facts about the most important science award in the world Why is there no Nobel Prize in Mathematics?

Young geniuses

Researchers often have to wait a long time for a Nobel Prize. The average age of the award winners is 59. As a physicist, however, you can achieve a lot at a young age. Five of the six youngest Nobel Prize winners come from this discipline. Until two years ago, William Lawrence Bragg even held the record as the youngest ever honoree: he was 25 years old when the Physics Prize was awarded. In 2014, however, he was overtaken by the 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Two in a year

In third place on the list of the youngest award winners is Werner Heisenberg. The German physicist, who explained the fundamentals of quantum mechanics to us mathematically (Heisenberg's uncertainty principle), was 31 years old when he received the Nobel Prize for it. A little strange. Because he received the award in 1933. He is officially the winner of 1932. In that year, however, there was no one for the Nobel Prize Committee who deserved it. So the 1932 award was canceled and it was awarded twice in 1933. In addition to Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger and Paul Dirac received the award for their work on atomic theory.

Twice as clever

Some scientists have received the Nobel Prize twice. And it was not always an award in the same category: The French Marie Curie, for example, was honored with the Physics Prize in 1903 together with her husband Pierre for her research on radioactive radiation. Eight years later, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry alone. She is also the only woman who has ever achieved this double success.

Speaking of women

49 of the 900 winners since 1901 are women. But very few of them were scientists. Only five women have so far received an award for their research in physics or chemistry. Twelve were able to adorn themselves with the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Good research

Marie and Joliot Curie are legends. But the fact that married couples do research together and receive the Nobel Prize for it does not only apply to the Curies. It was not until 2014 that the Norwegians May-Britt and Edvard I. Moser were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. In 1947 the award went to the Americans Carl Ferdinand Cori and Gerty Theresa Cori.

Family ties

However, the Curies remain the most successful noble family to date: Daughter Iréne Joliot-Curie also received an award - together with her husband Frédéric Joliot. In 1933 they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of artificial radioactivity. In the history of the Nobel Prize, father and son have also been honored six times. Most recently in 2005, Roger Kemberg, chemistry prizewinner. His father had won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1959.

Math and biology

The Nobel Prize is awarded in medicine, physics, chemistry, economics, literature and as a Nobel Peace Prize. Since many important subject areas are not considered, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science awards the Crafoord Prize (named after the industrialist Holger Craaford) annually in the disciplines of mathematics, geosciences, biology and astronomy. There are many legends surrounding the question of why there is no Nobel Prize in Mathematics. It is mainly about the Russian mathematician Sofya Kowalewskaja, who gave Alfred Nobel a basket. But probably it is because Nobel did not consider mathematics to be a science that contributes to the "good of mankind". And that was a condition for the award in his will.

Wrong business price?

Nobel had also not included a prize for economics in his will. It was only introduced in 1968 and is an endowment from the Swedish Reichsbank. Therefore it is not undisputed in the Royal Academy and is not considered a “real” Nobel Prize by many.