Less than 5 percent of all Nobel laureates are women. Only two physics winners are women: Marie Curie of France in 1903 and American Maria Goeppert-Mayer 60 years later. The peace prize has 12 female winners, and the literature prize has also been awarded to 12 women.
Age No Obstacle
American economist Leonid Hurwicz became the oldest Nobel laureate in 2007 at age 90. Briton Lawrence Bragg is the youngest. Bragg was 25 when he shared the physics prize in 1925 with his father.
Thanks, But ...
Two Nobel winners have turned down the prize. French writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre declined the literature prize in 1964, citing his principle of rejecting all official honors. Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho rejected the 1973 peace prize shared with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, saying there was still no peace in his country.
Hitler Hits the Roof
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was so enraged by the 1936 prize going to German pacifist and dissident Carl von Ossietzky that he barred Germans from accepting future Nobels. The ban prevented chemistry laureates Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and medicine winner Gerhard Domagk from going to Stockholm. They all received their diplomas after the war.
Nobel purists always note that the economics award is technically not a Nobel Prize because it was not in the will of award founder Alfred Nobel. It was established in Nobel's memory in 1968. Economists collect the same amount of cash.
Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi never received the peace prize, even though he was the 20th Century symbol of nonviolence. He was nominated five times, including just before his murder in January 1948. Awards committee members have later lamented the omission, and called the 1989 Prize to Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in part a recognition of Gandhi.