Nobel Prize Winners: 6 Things You Probably Didn't Know

Source: Chris Jackson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

This week marks the announcement of the 2013 Nobel Prize winners. The organization has kicked things off by announcing the prize winners in physiology and medicine; literature awards will be announced this Thursday and the Nobel Peace Prize Friday. In honor of all the hoopla, here are some random but interesting facts about past winners. 

Photo: Getty Images

This week marks the announcement of the 2013 Nobel Prize winners. The organization has kicked things off by announcing the prize winners in physiology and medicine; literature awards will be announced this Thursday and the Nobel Peace Prize Friday. In honor of all the hoopla, here are some random but interesting facts about past winners. 

Photo: Getty Images

Dream of winning a Nobel Prize? You've got time ...

People who win a Nobel Prize are known as Nobel Laureates. The average age of Nobel Laureates is 59 years old, with some categories skewing older (67 for economics, 64 for literature) and some skewing younger (55 for physics, 57 for chemistry). 

Image: Jean-Paul Sartre, who was 59 when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964 // via Wikimedia Commons 

... unless you're a physicist

The five youngest Nobel Laureates in any category are all physicists, with the very youngest just 25 years old. Forty-nine of all previous 862 Laureates were younger than 40 at the time of the award, again mostly in Physics (get moving, you physicists). If you're a writer or economist, don't worry: There have never been any prizewinners in either under the age of 40.

Image: Lawrence Bragg, youngest Nobel Laureate // via Nobelprize.org

Alfred Nobel was a lover & drifter

Nobel Prize founder Alfred Nobel was an incorrigible wanderer, it seems. Though he lived most of his life in Paris, he traveled for business and pleasure frequently, leading Victor Hugo to describe him as "Europe's richest vagabond." With no time to meet a woman, he turned to the 19th century equivalent of online dating: A newspaper classified ad. "Wealthy, highly-educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household," it said. Countess Bertha Kinsky von Suttner fit the bill, and though she ended up leaving him and marrying someone else, they remained friends. Several years after Alfred's death, the von Suttner was awarded the 1905 Nobel Peace Prize. 

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Nobel Laureates can party

Since 1901, the Nobel prizes are awarded to at annual ceremonies (the Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway and the other categories in Stockholm, Sweden). You can check out the Nobel banquet menus from 1901 to 2012 here for a glimpse of how haute cuisine has changed over time. In 1944, there was no banquet due to World War II. 

Image: NobelPrize.org

Genius runs in families

Seven Nobel laureates also have a prizewinning parent, including Irène Joliot-Curie, daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie and the youngest Laureate Lawrence Bragg , son of William Bragg. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons


5% of winners have been women

There have only been 44 Nobel Prizes awarded to women. First female Laureate Marie Curie won twice, which means a total of 43 female Nobel Laureates (just under 5 percent of total winners). Only two women — Curie and Maria Goeppert Mayer — have won in physics; four in chemistry; 10 in physiology or medicine; 12 in literature (including Toni Morrison in 1993). There have been 15 Nobel Peace Prize winners and only one in Economic Sciences.  

Image: Getty Images