War and Disaster Inspire Record Number of Nobel Nominations
Smith, Alex Duval, The Independent (London, England)
It could be a result of all the strife and natural disasters besetting the world. Competition for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced this morning in Oslo, has been the fiercest in the award's 105-year history. For the past five months, five anonymous Norwegians " the members of the Nobel committee " have studied the track, records, financial probity, moral rectitude and real intentions of a record 199 candidates, including 36 organisations.
If you believe the bookmakers, this morning's winner, who will receive a gold medal and 10m Swedish kronor (pounds 730,000) in Stockholm on 10 December, could be a rock star (Bob Geldof or Bono), the Salvation Army, the former Finnish president and Aceh peace broker Martti Ahtisaari, or the US nuclear disarmament campaigners Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar.
The truth is that predicting the winner of today's prize is about as dicey as proclaiming peace. The six Nobel Prizes " medicine, chemistry, physics, peace, economics and literature " are a masterstroke of Nordic detachment in a world of big egos, lobbying and potential corruption.
'The system we use is well thought out,' said the physicist Anders Brny, who is deputy director of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. 'Leaks happen but they are mostly inaccurate. I would say it is impossible for an institution, a company or a group of people to push through a given candidate.'
Mr Brny, whose Austrian grandfather won the physics prize in 1915, experienced the process from the inside as secretary of the Nobel physics committee for 15 years until 2003.
'Alfred Nobel created the prize because he felt so guilty about having invented dynamite. He died in 1896 but he was rather vague about his wishes and it took until 1900 for the Swedish and Norwegian parliaments (the two countries were then in union) to agree on the terms of the prize and bring it into being in 1901,' he explained. …