When the wealthy inventor Alfred Nobel’s brother died, a french newspaper mistakenly thought that it was Alfred who passed away. Their obituary of him was scathing, referring to him as Doctor Death because of his invention of dynamite and commenting that his legacy was a poor one. When Alfred read this obituary of his ‘death’, he resolved to make sure that when he actually died he would not be remembered so badly. His idea was using his fortune to set up the Nobel Prizes, which would celebrate the work done in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and peace. Nobel hoped that the prizes would award the best of the best, and those whose work had been of the ‘greatest benefit to mankind’ in the preceding year. The winners receive a diploma, a large prize money check and a gold medal. While in the past the medal has been solid 24ct gold, due to the high cost of gold and investing in gold, the medal is now made of green gold and then plated with 18ct gold.
Here is a rundown of the top 5 people who never received Nobel prizes in their friends, and why so many feel that their omission was a mistakeIn some ways Nobel has succeeded. There is perhaps no greater honour than receiving a Nobel prize in your field, and his prizes have honoured everybody from Marie Curie to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Yet there have been some notable omissions from the prize winner rosters that some suggest have diminished the meaning of the prize.
5. Dmitri Mendeleev
Everybody who is interested in chemistry, from high school students to bona fide scientists, will have heard of and love the Periodic table of Elements. Mendeleev, it’s creator, was not the first person to create such a table. However, his formula accurately predicted with as-yet-undiscovered elements should go – helping generations of scientists identify, label and place elements. Mendeleev made the shortlist in 1906 but lost out, perhaps due to a grudge from one of the committee members.
4. Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy is regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time, but he was denied the greatest award for literature during his life time. The reasons behind this was that the Literature prizes stipulates that the work must involve ‘idealism’, something that is overlooked now but was followed to the letter during Tolstoy’s time. Many have also said that bad feelings toward Russia from the Swedish awarding committee may have also contributed to Tolstoy being overlooked. Literature is one of the most contested categories, and Tolstoy is just one out of hundreds of renown authors who did not receive the award.
3. Nikola Tesla
Eccentric inventor Tesla could have been nominated for a nobel prize for any one of his inventions or discoveries. His work with AC current was not honoured, perhaps due to his infamous rivalry with Thomas Edison, and his work on radio was overlooked when the 1909 prize went to Guglielmo Marconi.
2. Rosalind Franklin
While Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins were honoured for perhaps the biggest scientific breakthrough of the 20th century, the discovery of the structure of DNA, Rosalind Franklin was not so lucky. Although her work and data were what made the discovery possible, she did not receive as much recognition in the scientific community for the discovery.
This was compounded by the fact that she did not gain Nobel recognition like the other scientists. This was because she fell afoul of two Nobel prize rules: firstly the award can be shared by a maximum of 3 people, secondly she died in 1958 and the Nobel Committee does not allow for posthumous awards.
The fact that Gandhi, who perhaps emphases everything that the Nobel Peace Prize is about, was never awarded the prize is seen by many as the most shocking omission in any field of the Nobel Prizes. Gandhi championed non-violent resistance and his work the field of peace has inspired countless others. Gandhi certainly provided great benefit to mankind like the prizes stipulate, but sadly he never received the biggest honour for his work.