Everything you need to know about the Nobel Prize
The beginning of October means Nobel Prize time. That's when committees in Stockholm and Oslo announce the winners of what many consider the most respected awards in the world.
This year's Nobel season kicked off Oct. 5. The medicine award was announced for the 106th time. The prize in medicine was awarded jointly. It was given to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura and Youyou Tu.
Daily announcements followed this week. Physics was announced on Oct. 6. It was awarded to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald. Chemistry was announced on Oct. 7. It was awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar. Literature was announced on Oct. 8. It was awarded to Svetlana Alexievich.
The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was announced today, Oct. 9. The prize was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.
Finally, the economics award will be announced on Oct. 12.
Each prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor. That is $960,000. The award will be handed out with a diploma and gold medal on Dec. 10.
The prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace were established by the will of Alfred Nobel. He was a wealthy Swedish industrialist. He was the inventor of dynamite. The first awards were handed out in 1901. That was five years after Nobel's death.
The economics award is officially known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It wasn't created by Nobel. Instead, it was created by Sweden's central bank in 1968.
Though it's handed out along with the other prizes and the criteria for selecting winners are the same, it's not a Nobel Prize in the same sense.
The Nobel statutes prohibit the judges from discussing their discussions for 50 years. So it's probably going to be a while before we know for sure how judges made their picks for 2015. And, who was on their short lists.
The judges try hard to avoid dropping hints about the winners before the announcements. But sometimes word gets out. Last year, there was a sudden surge in betting on literature winner Patrick Modiano in the days leading up to the announcement.
In a new book, the peace prize committee has accused its former secretary of breaking the code of silence. The book describes some of the discussions leading up to the awards during his 25-year tenure.
Thousands of people around the world are eligible to submit nominations for the Nobel Prizes. They include university professors, lawmakers, previous Nobel laureates and the committee members themselves.
The nominations are kept secret for 50 years. Still, those who submit them sometimes announce their suggestions publicly. That is particularly true for the Nobel Peace Prize.
That's how we know that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi are among this year's 273 nominees.
The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Norway. The other awards are handed out in Sweden. It's how Alfred Nobel wanted it.
His exact reasons are unclear. But during his lifetime, Sweden and Norway were joined in a union. The union was dissolved in 1905.
Sometimes relations have been tense between the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, which manages the prize money and the fiercely independent peace prize committee in Oslo.
Scientists often have to wait decades to have their work recognized by the Nobel judges. The judges want to make sure that any breakthrough withstands the test of time.
That's a departure from Nobel's will. It states that the awards should endow "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind."
The peace prize committee is the only one that regularly rewards achievements made in the previous year. According to Nobel's wishes, that prize should go to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations. For the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."