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Nobel Prizes

, annual monetary awards granted to individuals or institutionsfor outstanding contributions in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiologyor medicine, literature, international peace, and economic sciences. The Nobelprizes are internationally recognized as the most prestigious awards in each ofthese fields. The prizes were established by Swedish inventor and industrialistAlfred Bernhard Nobel, who set up a fund for them in his will. The first Nobelprizes were awarded on December 10, 1901, the fifth anniversary of Nobel’sdeath.

In hiswill, Nobel directed that most of his fortune be invested to form a fund, theinterest of which was to be distributed annually «in the form of prizes tothose who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefiton mankind.» He stipulated that the interest be divided into five equalparts, each to be awarded to the person who made the most importantcontribution in one of five different fields. In addition to the three scientificawards and the literature award, a prize would go to the person who had done«the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolitionor reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peacecongresses.» Nobel also specified certain institutions that would selectthe prizewinners. The will indicated that “no consideration whatever shall begiven to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shallreceive the prize.”

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