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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Nobel Prize for Malaysian?

The very first time I read about Nobel Prize was circa fasting month of Ramadhan and festive season of Syawal, sometime around late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Don’t get shocked, the reading material was not primary- school-sort-of text books or research journals. It was Gila-Gila, the Malaysian version for Mad with the highest circulations nationwide compared to even its close competitors namely Gelihati. That was a long time ago, long before Ujang came up with his Ujang.

Anyways, I am not going to talk about how Gila-Gila associated the introduction of Nobel Prize after Alfred Nobel lost his beloved brother in a dynamite tragedy with celebration of Hari Raya Malay ways with meriam buluh and all. What I am going to share is about the Nobel Prize itself.
Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize (True Stories)The most popular prize is Nobel Peace Prize which can be considered as the grand prize among other awarded prizes. In actuality, there are 5 others; Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and the Prize in Economic Sciences. Of those 6, only the last one awarded its first prize in 1968 while the rests started since 1901. It is so because the Prize in Economic Sciences was the later installation initiated by Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) in memory of Alfred Nobel. The full name is Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

All prizes used to be shared up to 3 persons or organizations. The winners also known as Nobel Laureates. The word "Laureate" refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laureal wreath is a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (In latin: Laurus nobilis). In ancient Greek laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour - both in athletic competitions and in poetic meets.

Each prize consists of 3 components. A diploma, gold medal and cash prize. The diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The medal is made from 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold. It shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896). While the cash prize is a huge sum; SEK 10 million (over USD 1 million) per full Nobel Prize.

Designing Economic MechanismsWilliam and Lawrence Bragg, Father and Son: The Most Extraordinary Collaboration in ScienceYou are never too old or too young to be a laureate. History recorded the oldest laureate aged 90, Leonid Hurwicz, who was awarded the 2007 Prize in Economic Sciences, while the youngest laureate, Lawrence Bragg was 25 years old when he received the Nobel Prize in Physics with his father in 1915.
Quite a number of laureates still alive, and some lives a centenarian. Rita Levi-Montalcini for an instance, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine now aged 102 years old.
Willem Einthoven and the Story of Electrocardiography (Unlocking the Secrets of Science)Rita Levi-Montalcini: Nobel Prize Winner (Women in Medicine)
Several people has been conferred more than once. However, of all 813 laureates for all prizes, only 41 are women. From an Asian point of view, the Nobel Prizes have always been dominated by the same old countries; China, Japan and India. But there are times when certain dark horses managed to show up, like what Willem Einthoven did in 1924 for Indonesia (under the name of Dutch East Indies) or Tibet thru her very own son the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) in 1989.

Hey, what about Malaysia? Well folks, I would suggest we focus towards achieving Vision 2020. Hoping for a Nobel Prize for our comrades is not a foreseeable target, at least in the near future if not totally futile. We may end up having none, as we already experience by dreaming of playing in FIFA World Cup Finals.

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