:: trivia retrieved ::

The Nobel Prize

[Ivan (Editor): Thanks for waiting! ReTRIeVIA is back with this first excerpt from Dr. Tan’s 2002 entries]

The Nobel Prizes are the most highly regarded of international awards. The prizes come from a fund set up by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish scientist who invented dynamite and other explosives.

The Year 2001 marked the 100th anniversary of the first Nobel Prize awards which were for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/ Medicine, Literature, and Peace. The sixth award, for Economics, was set up in 1968.

To mark the 100th anniversary, Britain issued a set of 6 stamps, one for each of the disciplines. You can buy this special stamp issue from philatelic agents in Singapore for about $10 a set. The Literature stamp in the set features a poem by T.S. Eliot, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, entitled “The Addressing of Cats”.

One colleague told me there is some connection between this poem and the musical “Cats”. I can’t recall what the connection is.


Anyway what I wanted to do is to tell you a more juicy puzzle concerning the Nobel Prize: Why is there no Nobel Prize for Mathematics?

One hypothesis goes that Alfred Nobel was in love with the famous lady Russian mathematics professor, Sofya Kowalewskaja, shortly after her arrival in Sweden. However, Ms Lowalewskaja fell in love with another Swedish mathematician at the University of Stockholm by the name of Professor Mittag-Leffler.

Apparently, Prof Mittag-Leffler was an outstanding mathematician and, in Nobel’s opinion, if a Nobel Prize for Mathematics was set up Mittag-Leffler would be a very strong candidate and possibly win the award.

So, to prevent such a possibility, Nobel decided not to have a prize for mathematics!

Interesting hypothesis, isn’t it?

Re-trievia recalled: Excerpts from Year 2002
Tan Wee Kiat


Written by Ivan Chew

26 November, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Year 2002

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. It is interesting! I have heard the same version.


    27 November, 2007 at 1:36 am

  2. Hi! edgarsr,
    Thanks for visiting the retrievia blog.
    This version of ‘why there is no Nobel Prize in Mtahematics’ is a bit more ‘juicy’ than the others. A quick way to get the other versions is via a Google search on “Nobel Prize, Mathematics”.
    tan wee kiat.

    tan wee kiat

    27 November, 2007 at 10:50 am

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