The Nobel Prize and Einstein's Ghost

This December 10 th marks the one hundredth anniversary of when the first Nobel Prizes were awarded. Ever since, they have been a subject of great interest and debate.

Alfred Nobel died on 10 December 1896. When his will was opened it was found that he had donated his considerable wealth to creating the prizes that bear his name. Five prizes were mentioned: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace; and four prize-awarding institutions named: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (for physics and chemistry), the Karolinska Institutet (for physiology or medicine), the Swedish Academy (for literature) and a group appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, later called ``The Norwegian Nobel Committee'' (for peace). Sweden and Norway were then tied together in a union.

Since the creation of the Nobel prizes, more than 650 medals and diplomas have been given away in the original prize areas. A prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel was established by the Bank of Sweden in 1968. Most of these prizes are connected with scientific breakthroughs, literary masterpieces and attempts to make peace in a violent century.

The thread running though all the stories of the prize winners is the concept of creativity: both individual creativity and creative environments. One story - that of a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Albert Einstein - is particularly explicative of the process. Perhaps the most common question about the Nobel Prize in Physics is this: ``Why didn't Einstein get the prize for his theory of relativity?''