What is the Nobel Prize and how do you win one? Peace Prize and more explained.

The coveted Nobel Prizes are announced annually, and last year's lineup featured several American winners.

A Harvard economics professor won, as well as University of Pennsylvania researchers for their work in developing mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 and a scientist and emeritus professor at The Ohio State University. Three U.S.-based scientists won for their work in chemistry.

With over 400 winners, the United States has the most Nobel Prize winners of any country.

What is the Nobel Prize?

The Nobel Prize is a set of awards given each year to those who “conferred the greatest benefit to humankind,” founder Alfred Nobel said.

Nobel was an inventor, entrepreneur, scientist, businessman and writer, according to the Nobel Prize organization. When he died, he left most of his fortune to establish these prizes.

The categories are physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. There is also the Prize in Economic Sciences, created in 1968 with a donation from Swedish central bank Sveriges Riksbank.

The nomination process for Nobel Prizes begins in September each year, with thousands of academics, scientists, past winners and parliamentary members submitting candidates. According to the Nobel Prize organization, the nominators are chosen to represent as many countries and universities over the years as possible.

Nobel specified in his will that Swedish institutions would be responsible for selecting the winners of the Nobel Prizes. The Norwegian Parliament was to select the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He also asked that the ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize be held in Norway. Today, Nobel Day is celebrated by presenting the prizes on December 10, the day Nobel died. The other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, as requested in Nobel’s will.

There are a few exceptions. Many prizes were not awarded during World War I and II. If a noteworthy work is not identified, the Foundation does not have to honor that category that year. For example, the Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded in 1966, 1967 or 1972.

What is the Nobel Peace Prize?

Perhaps the most well-known of the awards, Nobel wrote in his will that the Peace Prize would go to those "who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congrundefined

In the past, the awards have prioritized politicians who promote international peace through diplomacy, though they also honor humanitarian work. The work of a Peace Prize winner typically falls into one of these areas:

  • Arms control and disarmament

  • Peace negotiations

  • Democracy

  • Human rights

Imprisoned Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi won the Peace Prize in 2023. Mohammadi has been in and out of prison for the last decade and is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence on false charges of "spreading propaganda." Mohammadi has been described as the "undisputed leader" of a mass protest movement against Iranian authorities after they cracked down on how women are allowed to behave and dress. She is the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran.

Who won the Nobel Prize 2023?

All categories were honored last year and announced in October 2023. Up to three people or institutions can split the award. Here's who won:

  • Nobel Prize in physics: Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L'Huillier “for experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses of light for the study of electron dynamics in matter”

  • Nobel Prize in chemistry: Moungi G. Bawendi, Louis E. Brus and Alexei I. Ekimov “for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots”

  • Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine: Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19”

  • Nobel Prize in literature: Jon Fosse “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable”

  • Nobel Peace Prize: Narges Mohammadi “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all”

  • Prize in Economic Sciences: Claudia Goldin "for having advanced our understanding of women's labour market outcomes"

How much is a Nobel Prize worth?

Nobel Prize money comes from Nobel, who wanted his wealth to be invested into a fund for the prizes. The interest on that money is used for the prizes today. Last year’s prize money was worth 11 million Swedish krona, or almost $993,000.

Who is the most famous Nobel Prize winner?

While some of the Nobel Prize’s archived winners are known more for their contributions than their fame, there are some household names that have received the award.

Four U.S. Presidents and one Vice President have won the Nobel Peace Prize:

  • President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906

  • President Woodrow Wilson in 1920

  • President Jimmy Carter in 2002

  • Vice President Al Gore in 2007

  • President Barack Obama in 2009

Other notable laureates, according to the Nobel Prize archives, include:

  • Marie Curie won the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics along with her husband Pierre. Curie also won the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

  • Ivan Pavlov won the 1905 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

  • Albert Einstein won the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics

  • Ernest Hemingway won the 1954 Nobel Prize in literature

  • Martin Luther King Jr. won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize

  • Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize

  • Desmond Tutu won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize

  • Elie Wiesel won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize

  • Toni Morrison won the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature

  • Malala Yousafzai was one of two recipients of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

  • Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature

Only two Nobel Prize laureates have ever declined the prize. French playwright Jean-Paul Sartre had a reputation for declining all official honors and continued that tradition with the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature. Le Duc Tho was responsible for negotiating a cease-fire agreement with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the Vietnam War. The pair were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, but Tho declined, saying he was not in a position to accept it.

Adolf Hitler forbade three German Nobel Prize laureates from accepting the Nobel Prize, and Boris Pasternak, awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in literature, was coerced by Soviet Union authorities to decline.

Past Nobel Prize winners: Only 64 women have won. She was the first.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What is the Nobel Peace Prize? Here's how much the awards are worth.