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What to Know About the 2021 Nobel Prizes


Nobel Prize season is upon us once again. Every October, committees in Sweden and Norway name laureates in a variety of prizes in the sciences, literature and economics, as well as peace work. In total, six prizes will be awarded.

Like everything else, the Nobels are making adjustments for the pandemic. Last year, some events were canceled in favor of a digital ceremony for the winners. The Oslo ceremony for the peace prize was smaller than in most years, with a limited audience.

This year’s festivities will be a mixture of digital and physical events. Laureates will receive their Nobel Prize medals and diplomas in their home countries in December, the organization said.

Here’s a quick guide to this year’s prizes.

Six Nobel Prizes are awarded every year, each recognizing an individual’s or organization’s groundbreaking contribution in a specific field. Prizes are given for physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry, economic science, literature and peace work, which often draws the most attention because of the caliber of people and groups nominated.

This year, there are 329 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel committee said. Here’s how those nominations work.

Previous Nobel Peace Prize winners include Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai (2014), former President Barack Obama (2009), Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk (1993), the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (1989) and Mother Teresa (1979).

One prize will be announced each day from Oct. 4 to Oct. 8 and again on Oct. 11, between 5:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. Eastern time. Announcements are made in Stockholm and Oslo, and will be streamed live on the official digital channels of the Nobel Prize.

The award for physiology or medicine will be announced on Monday, Oct. 4.

The award for physics will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

The award for chemistry will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

The award for literature will be announced on Thursday, Oct. 7.

The award for peace work will be announced on Friday, Oct. 8.

The award for economic science will be announced on Monday, Oct. 11.

Nobel Prize laureates will receive a Nobel Prize diploma, a Nobel Prize medal and a document detailing the Nobel Prize amount, which last year rose to 10 million Swedish krona, or about $1.1 million in current exchange rates.

Last year’s winners included the World Food Program for its efforts to combat a surge in global hunger amid the coronavirus pandemic and scientists for their work on the development of Crispr-Cas9, a method for genome editing.

See a complete list of 2020 winners here.

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