The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually to people who have done outstanding research, invented groundbreaking techniques or equipment or made outstanding contributions to society. They were instituted by the final will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist, and the inventor of dynamite.
The first ceremony to award the Nobel Prizes in literature, physics, chemistry, and medicine was held at the Old Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm in 1901; beginning in 1902, the prizes have been formally awarded by the King of Sweden. King Oscar II did not initially approve of awarding grand national prizes to foreigners, but is said to have changed his mind after realizing the publicity value of the prizes for the country.
A large monetary award is included with the Nobel Prizes, currently about 10 million Swedish Kronor (slightly more than one million Euros). This was originally intended to allow the persons to continue working or researching without the pressures of raising money. (In actual fact, most prize winners have been too old to be able to do that when getting the prize, and many receivers of the Nobel Prize of Literature have been silenced by it, even if younger.)
Nobel Prizes have been given anually since 1901 for achievements in:
When Nobel had died, and his will was opened, none of the deciding bodies had been asked by him whether they would accept the responsibility; they decided to do so after quite a lot of hesitation.
Since this prize has no foundation in Nobel's will, and is not paid by his money, it is technically not a Nobel prize (and the present Nobel family does not accept it as such). It is however awarded together with the other Nobel prizes. In 1968, the decision was made not to add any more prizes "in memory of Nobel" in the future.
Other prizes Some fields without a Nobel prize have instituted prizes of their own which are not as well-known: the Polar Prize[?] in music, the Fields Medal in mathematics, the Wollaston Medal[?] in geology, the Schock Prizes in logic and philosophy, mathematics, visual arts and musical arts[?].
The Kyoto Prizes are awarded in three categories: Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.
The Right Livelihood Awards (also known as "Alternative Nobel Prizes") are awarded to persons who have made important contributions in areas such as environmental protection, peace, human rights, health etc.
The humorous IgNobel Prize is a parody which annually honors research "that cannot or should not be repeated".