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The Nobel in quizzes

Published Oct. 7, 2014

Nobel season is upon us. To help avoid any embarrassing water-cooler faux pas, here's a true-or-false guide to the prizes created in 1895 by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel — the world's most famous awards besides the Oscars.

True or false?

1. You can only win a Nobel Prize once

2. You can only be nominated in one Nobel category

3. A Nobel prize cannot be revoked

4. Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

5. Winston Churchill won a Nobel Peace Prize

6. Nobel Prizes can be given posthumously

7. Hardly any Nobel Laureates are women

8. The economics prize is not an original Nobel

9. All Nobel Prizes are presented in Stockholm


1. False. There is no limit to how many Nobel Prizes you can win. American scientist John Bardeen won the physics award twice, in 1956 and 1972, while British biochemist Frederick Sanger got two chemistry awards, in 1958 and 1980.

2. False. Marie Curie of France won the physics prize in 1903 and the chemistry award in 1911. Linus Pauling, a scientist and peace activist, won the chemistry prize in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize eight years later.

3. True. The Nobel statutes are clear on this: Once you've received a Nobel Prize, it's yours forever. Those online petitions calling for a particular prize to be withdrawn have no effect.

4. True. The German dictator was nominated in 1939 by Swedish lawmaker E.G.C. Brandt for the prize, which is meant to promote "fraternity between nations" and global disarmament. Brandt later withdrew the nomination, saying it was meant as satire. This just shows that anyone can be nominated — it doesn't say anything about their chances of actually winning.

5. False. The eloquent British conservative leader did win a Nobel Prize, but in the literature category, not peace.

6. False. Since 1974, only living people are considered by the prize committees. However, the Nobel Foundation made an exception in 2011 when it found out right after the medicine prize was announced that one of the winners, Ralph Steinman, had died just days earlier.

7. True. Of the 847 individuals who have won a Nobel Prize, only 44, or 5 percent, were women.

8. True. The economics award was not among the five awards that Alfred Nobel established in his will for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. It was created by the central bank of Sweden in 1968 in Nobel's honor. It is announced along with the other prizes, carries the same prize money of $1.1 million, and is handed out at the annual Nobel ceremony in December. But it's technically not a Nobel Prize.

9. False. The peace prize is both announced and handed out in Oslo, the Norwegian capital, according to the wishes of Alfred Nobel. No one knows why he wanted it that way but during his lifetime Sweden and Norway were joined in a union.