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The Day of The Nobel Prize

Updated on July 5, 2012

Alfred Nobel and The Nobel Prize

December 10 is the 344th day of the year. December 10 1901 is also the day the very first Nobel Prizes were awarded to its pioneer recipients. Established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will, the award is presented annually on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, awarding recipients who have had contributed substantially in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and the very controversial Peace Prize. Since 1969, the Nobel Prize for Economics have been added to the existing list of prizes, the Economics prize, awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions in the area of Economics was instituted by The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize

First Nobel Prize for Physics

On December 10 1901, the inaugural recipient for the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Wilhelm Rontgen, a German physicist who first produced and detected Rontgen Rays or X-rays, used widely in the medical field today. Rontgen’s discovery of X-ray was purely coincidental, in 1895, while experimenting various types of vacuum equipment, he found out he had discovered something new and unknown, a fluorescent effect that showed skeletal properties of the human body. The term X-ray, coined by Rontgen himself, was used because he felt as though there were many properties of the ray unknown to him and X was used, since it was the mathematical equation for something unknown.

First Nobel Prize for Chemistry

The very first recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff, for his research in chemical equilibrium. Jacobus is known as the father of Chemistry since it is known that he laid the foundation of physical chemistry known worldwide today. Jacobus’s contribution to chemistry ultimately comes from his work on the geometry of science, coming up with geometrical structures which are in line with isomers, a field called stereochemistry. Despite having to face critics who slammed his ideas and notions, Jacobus plowed through and his contributions now are used in every day chemistry designs.

First Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

For the first Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, Emil von Behring, a military doctor by profession, studied immunity in the human body and was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering a serum for tetanus and diphtheria, both deadly forms of illnesses which were life threatening by that era’s standards. Behring also discovered a substance which prevents bovine tuberculosis, his efforts saving a great number of lives.

First Nobel Prize for Literature

Sully Prudhomme was the first recipient for the Nobel Prize for Literature. The French poet, in his poems prior to winning the Nobel Prize, was known to be deeply moving, melancholic and sincere in nature, written in French. Prudhomme was also an essayist, having written over five essays in the span of his career, all of them critically acclaimed, and leading him to become the very first recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature award.

First Nobel Peace Prize

Henry Dunant and Frederic Passy were the inaugural recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize award, each of them largely contributing to the creation of a now-famous organization and an intervention of a war, respectively. Dunant, a businessman and a peace activist, after witnessing a battle between the allied French army against the Austrian empire was compelled to write a journal and publish a book which ultimately led to the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Passy, a professional economist based in France, helped push the idea of free trade to governments and founded an organization to avert physical conflicts through dialogue and reform, despite receiving the award for Nobel Peace Prize over a century ago, his essays and speeches on peace activism has been widely praised and used in studies even in present day.

The recipients of the very first Nobel Prizes in December 10 1901 were indeed worthy of receiving the very prestigious award. Their recognitions in their specialized field are mostly still used to this very day, their contributions saving plenty of lives and bettering mankind.

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