The Nobel prizes are the world’s most prestigious awards, for which the rock stars of science and politics would happily sell their souls. Never mind the £750,000 pocket money or the colossal fame.
According to research the coveted prize has other benefits. Winning is said to add an extra two years to your life according to research carried out by Warwick University.
The majority of Nobel winners are disproportionately American males. Prior to 2006, of the 758 individuals granted the Nobel nod, almost 300 of these have been American and only 22 have been women.
However with more categories then ever being added to the Nobel Prize, including ecology, evolutionary biology and neuroscience, in upcoming years your chances of winning might be better then you think.
But why waste a lifetime in unflattering lab coats writing tortuous thesis? After all you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your youth furthering the march of democracy to scoop a Nobel.
Luckily Arts London News is on hand to offer the idiot’s-guide on how to grab the most sought after award on the planet without all that effort.
Give peace a chance
The mother of all accolades, the Peace prize is arguably easiest to win of the Nobel prizes. It’s open to all, meaning you don’t need to find a cure for cancer, an alternative to nuclear power or even have a college degree to win one. Here, Peace laureates usually fall into three categories.
Firstly, the humanitarians. Perhaps the most obvious approach, prizes have been awarded to Albert Schweitzer, who built hospitals in Africa; Muhammad Yunus, who devised a new way of granting loans to low income entrepreneurs and Norman Borlaug, who developed high-yield strains of wheat revolutionising third world agriculture.
Occasionally it’s won by non-institutional types such as Andrei Sakharov who was a Russian Human Rights Activist and another, Martin Luther King who was the prominent leader of the African-American Human Rights Movements in the 60’s or Carl von Ossietzky who was a German pacifist.
But it’s more likely to be handed to a government official i.e. a George Marshall, Willy Brandt, or the-not-so-peaceful US President Jimmy Carter.
Your results don’t always need to be as impressive as your intentions. In fact, of the 120 Nobel Prize winners Obama may be considered the jammiest laureate in Nobel history.
For the rest of us there are alternatives. Mere mortals can join an international organisation or even better, become an international organisation. However of the 23 organisations that have won over the years, including Amnesty international, Doctors without Borders, Unicef and the Red Cross many have been heavily criticised.
An overwhelming number of controversial figures over the years have clinched the Nobel peace prize by simply killing a lot of people....and then stopping.
In 1973, the Nobel Peace prize was given to Henry Kissinger whose CV included the worst kept “secret” bombing of Cambodia and the ironically named “Christmas” bombing of North Vietnam. In fact a whole month before he was awarded he was active in the support of the brutal dictatorship of Chile. The reason for his award? He agreed to a truce to end the Vietnam War in 1973.
Then in 1978 the Nobel peace prize was won by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who later ordered the bloody invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and was about as peaceful as Hitler, who was also nominated in 1939.
You would think that the choice to involve Hitler may be insensitive. However according to Nobel Peace Prize any professor of social sciences, history, philosophy war, theology and any judge of national legislator can nominate anyone for a Nobel Peace Prize. Hitler was nominated by Swedish MP Erik Brandtin 1939.
Other fascists who have received nomination include Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin. Past Italian Prime Minister, Mussolini, was the leader of the National Fascist party. He is regarded as one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism and supported Hitler in World War II. Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union and is now known to have been responsible for a genocidal regime, which killed millions of people.
Be a man
More women are making increasing plays for the Nobel crown despite living in an egalitarian society. You would think that nowadays equality would be imperative in the academic world, yet it does not seem so. To date there have only been 41 Nobel awards given to women (two of which chemist and physicist Marie Curie won single-handedly).
Despite a record number of five female laureates in medicine, chemistry, economics and literature this year, the men continue to lead clocking up over 750 Nobel awards over the years. One can only hope that trends will change in the future and that the equality divide will be eradicated. So if you’re a girl keep your chin up!
Play hard to get
The only thing better then winning a Nobel Prize is snubbing one. The Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat and politician Le Duc Tho refused the 1973 award for his role in peace talks during the Vietnam War in 1973, because Vietnam was not yet at peace.
French author and exponent of existential theory, Jean Paul Sartre, also famously declined the Literature award in 1964 claiming, “A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, no matter how honourable.” Quite.
Despite being pioneers in technological and computer robotics, Chinese nominees have had a historically bad time of winning in the Nobel competition. Of the six that have won almost all have been Chinese American sparking rumours of a pro-western bias within the Nobel foundation.
And lastly, when all else fails...make it up
Past winners in the Nobel “turkey” hall of fame have included Johannes Fibiger, who supposedly found the cause of cancer (something that is only now becoming clear due to breakthroughs in genetics) and Antonio Egas Moniz, whose “cure” for mental illness, the frontal lobotomy, neglected to mention that it removed not only the symptoms but also the patient’s entire sense of being.
In addition there appears to be an unspoken connection between prize winning and eccentricity. Past boffins have denied that HIV causes AIDS and supported eugenics proving that peculiarity isn’t everything, but it helps.
So if you follow these steps and still fail to bag a Nobel Prize, don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe the 20th century isn’t quite what the Swedish industrialist Nobel envisioned. But if spiritual leader and historical icon Mahatma Ghandi can’t scoop a Nobel, what chance do the rest of us have?
Original article published on 24 November 2009
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