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Alfred Nobel: Controversial Man, Controversial Awards
By Ivan Simic
The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. The Prize was established from Alfred Bernhard Nobel's will on 27 November 1895.
Every year, since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize.
All prizes are presented on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and cash award (over 1 million Euros). For the past few decades, the Nobel Prize is considered to be the most prestigious prize in the world.
Alfred Nobel was the Swedish inventor of dynamite, also, founder of the Nobel Prize, chemist, scientist, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, author, weapons manufacturer, and pacifist. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866 in Krummel, Germany, and patented it later in 1876. After his death he left 31 million Swedish Kronor (103,931,888.00 USD in 2007) to fund the prizes.
Alfred Nobel was a pacifist, which is highly contradictory, since he invented dynamite which had enormous use in many wars, but also in industry. Furthermore, he owned a company named Bofos, which was a major weapons manufacturer. Bofos was founded in 1873, but it originates from the iron and steel mill called Boofors, established in 1646.
From the first Nobel Prize awarding in 1901, this prize had many criticisms and controversies in the proceedings, nominations, awardees and exclusions. Many individuals who really had conferred the greatest benefit on mankind did not win the Prize, for Instance:
Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessmen who developed many devices such as the phonograph and light bulb. He was the first one to apply principles of mass production to the process of invention.
Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev, Russian chemist and inventor. He was the originator of the periodic table of the elements.
Oswald Theodore Avery, an American physicist who is known for the discovery (along with his co-workers) that DNA is the material of which genes and chromosomes are made.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian Independence Movement. He is well-known to the world for non-violence and truth advocacy. His birthday October 2 is a national holiday in India and is the International Day of Non-Violence. He was nominated five times for the Nobel Prize, but never got it.
Here are a few individuals who won the Nobel Prize that many believe to be controversial:
Philipp Eduard Anton von Lenard, Hungarian-German physicist. He is the winner of the Prize in physics for his research on cathode rays. Later he was adviser to Adolf Hitler, Chief of Aryan Physics and active proponent of Nazi ideology.
Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist and pharmacologist. He is the winner of the Prize (shared prize) in medicine for his discovery of penicillin. Many oppose the fact that he was the first to discover penicillin.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. American President and the first American who received the Nobel Prize. He is the winner of the Peace Prize in 1905. During his presidency he played an important role in the suppression of a revolt in the Philippines.
Henry Alfred Kissinger (Heinz Alfred Kissinger), the US Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. He is the winner of the Peace Prize along with Le Duc Though, however, though declined the award. There is evidence that he was involved in the secret campaign of bombing against infiltrating NVA in Cambodia and Operation Condor. He also supported the invasion of Cyprus. Kissinger is wanted for questioning by officials in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France and Spain for war crimes that he might have committed.
Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini (Yasser Arafat), Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin are winners of the Peace Prize for the negotiations in Oslo. Arafat was accused of being associated with many violent acts. On the other hand, Rabin was an Israeli Military General who ordered the expulsion of Arabs from areas captured by Israel during the war in 1948.
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr., Vice President of the United States from 1993-2001. He is the winner of the Peace Prize (shared) "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". During his service in the office under President Clinton, the US was involved in many military operations. Operations in which many people lost their lives and which had great impact on climate change, pollution, illness, among others. For instance: NATO bombing of Bosnian Serbs, US led bombing of Iraq, US led bombing of Serbia. Al Gore is a fine actor, in fact, Academy awarded actor, and for his role in "The Inconvenient Truth" he won the Oscar.
There are people among us who dedicated their lives to make a valuable contribution to mankind in areas of physics, economics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and it is expected for these individuals to win the Prize, however, many never got it, nor will get it. On the other side, many of those with suspicious backgrounds, and those who gave just a few months of their lives for some cause won the Prize.
If this trend continues, then in the next five years we will see George W. Bush (present US President) as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his noble efforts to bring peace to all mankind by creating new wars in order to prevent wars and terrorism. And maybe as a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, for his efforts in making the highest ever oil price per barrel in history, and making war industry wealthier than ever, and for contribution in creating a devastating financial situation in the United States, and promising recessions.