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  • Why do we care about scientists' Nobel efforts?

  • Hello everyone, Trace here for DNews.

  • When someone wins the Nobel prize, everyone instantly knows they're kind of a big deal.

  • Winners not only get a shiny medal but 8 million Swedish Krona, and of course they're respected and revered.

  • But it's far from the only prize recognizing contributions to the advancement of humanity.

  • So why is the Nobel prize held in such high esteem?

  • Maybe it's because of the prize's past.

  • The Nobel prize has existed for over 100 years and has been given to some of the most recognizable names in history,

  • like Albert Einstein -- the relativity guy, Ivan Pavlov -- the dog guy,

  • and Werner Heisenberg -- no, not the meth guy.

  • It was established by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, who made a considerable fortune off his invention of dynamite.

  • In 1895, he secretly drafted his will to set aside the bulk of his estate for prizes in 5 different fields: physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature, and peace.

  • Economics was added later by Sweden's central bank, though technically it's not a Nobel Prize,

  • it's just named in honor of Alfred Nobel.

  • Nobel passed away in 1896 and in 1901, the first prizes were handed out.

  • At first, the press was only interested in the peace and literature awards, as the sciences

  • were thought to be a bit too niche for the general public.

  • But when Marie Curie and her husband were awarded the 1903 prize in physics, along with Henri Becquerel,

  • their story captured the public’s imagination.

  • The idea of the poor Curie's scraping by in a laboratory while they revolutionized our understanding of atoms

  • made for great headlines.

  • They became celebrities, and the scientific Nobel prizes started getting recognition.

  • Now the Nobel prize has become a shorthand for greatness, though the awards are not always given out controversy free.

  • Part of the problem is Alfred Nobel stipulated only 3 people could share the award and the cash prize that comes with it.

  • The cutting edge of science today requires a lot of collaboration, and sometimes people who do valuable research are left out.

  • Other times they're straight up snubbed, like Joycelyn Bell Burnell.

  • She was the first person to observe radio pulsars, but the 1974 prize in physics was

  • given to her doctoral thesis advisor.

  • Talk about a No-Bell prize.

  • It's important to remember the winners are selected by committees and so, they can be fallible.

  • Their members are appointed by the Royal Swedish Academy or the medical university Karolinska Institutet.

  • Except for the peace prize committee; Alfred Nobel stipulated that they have to be Norwegian

  • for... some reason.

  • Anyway, the committees invite thousands of people respected in their respective fields

  • to nominate winners and narrow it down from there.

  • When it comes time to announce the winners, they don't always make the most perfect or most obvious picks.

  • Usually they do select scientists who have made lasting impacts in their field, like Peter Higgs.

  • Higgs had to wait almost 50 years for his prize, because he proposed the Higgs boson's existence in 1964,

  • but it wasn't confirmed until 2012.

  • In 2013, the Nobel committee recognized that he made this massive contribution (pun intended)to particle physics.

  • Because of the delay between a scientist's work and its visible influence, the Nobel

  • Prize has become something of a career award.

  • That doesn't mean Nobel laureates are resting on their laurels and calling it a day once theyve won though.

  • Four scientists have won the nobel prize twice, including the aforementioned Marie Curie.

  • She's not only the first woman to win it, she remains the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different scientific categories.

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  • Higgs' proposed boson took so long to find because we had to build the most powerful

  • atom smasher ever to look for it.

  • I actually visited; you can go see that video right here.

  • Do you guys keep track of the Nobel prizes?

  • Do you care?

  • Are there any that blew your mind?

  • Let us know in the comments, make sure you come back every day for more DNews

  • and thanks for watching!

Why do we care about scientists' Nobel efforts?

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