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The Nobel Prize winners of 2016 have been announced, and there is a history behind these prestigious prizes.

A golden medallion with an embossed image of Alfred Nobel facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "MDCCCXXXIII" above, followed by (smaller) "OB•" then "MDCCCXCVI" below.

The Nobel Medal


Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, was the creator of the Nobel Prizes in Sweden. In his will, he bequeathed his fortune to the creation of several international prizes for hard work and discovery, later named the Nobel Prizes. There is also a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, first awarded in 1968. It is the only prize not mention in Nobel’s will.

There are usually about 3,000 individuals who nominate people for the prizes, and 300 nominees accepted. No knowledge of those chosen is revealed until 50 years after the prize. Nobel prize winners receive a medal, a diploma from the King of Sweden, and around $350,000.

This year’s Nobel Prize winners for Chemistry are: Ben Feringa, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, for the design and synthesis of molecular machines. The winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics are Oliver Hart and Bengt R. Holmstrom for their contributions to contract theory. The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is Bob Dylan for having created new poetic expressions within the great American Song tradition. John M. Kosterlitz, Duncan Haldane, and David J. Thouless won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and matter. Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy. Finally, Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Columbia, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort to stop the Columbian conflict.

The Nobel Prizes are a way to proclaim who made enormous contributions to Peace and Science during the year.