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The Nobel Prizes in numbers

world Updated: Oct 05, 2009 19:01 IST
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Who is the oldest Nobel laureate, and who is the youngest? How many women have won a Nobel? How many married couples? Here are some of the answers.

- The oldest laureate to win a Nobel was Russian-born American Leonid Hurwicz, who was 90 years of age when he won the Nobel Economics Prize in 2007. He lived only a few months longer, passing away in June 2008.

- Vitaly Ginzburg of Russia, who won the 2003 physics prize, is the oldest living Nobel laureate. He celebrated his 92nd birthday on October 4, 2008. William Knowles of the United States, who won the 2001 chemistry prize, is in second place, turning 92 on June 1, 2009, two weeks older than 2002 chemistry laureate and fellow American John Fenn.

- In 2007 British author Doris Lessing became the oldest winner of the Nobel Literature Prize, aged 87 when her name was announced. Lessing later described winning the award as a "catastrophe" because it left her no time to write.

- Since 1901 when the first Nobel prizes were awarded, a total of 35 women have been honoured and 754 men. Since its creation in 1968, no woman has won the economics prize. In the past 10 years, two women have won the literature prize, and two have won the peace prize. No woman has won the physics prize since 1963, nor the chemistry prize since 1964.

- British laureate Lawrence Bragg, who won the physics prize in 1915, was 25 years old when he won and remains the youngest laureate in the history of the prizes. Germany's Werner Karl Heisenberg, the 1932 physics laureate, was 31 when he won, while British author Rudyard Kipling remains the youngest Nobel literature laureate ever honoured, aged 42 when he won in 1907.

- Six fathers and sons have won a Nobel, but there has been only one father-daughter and one mother-daughter pair among the laureates. Three married couples have won Nobels. In each of the three latter cases, French scientist Irene Joliot-Curie was one of the laureates.

- Six laureates have declined a Nobel. The only two to do so of their own will were Jean-Paul Sartre, who turned down the 1964 Literature Prize, and Vietnam's then-prime minister Le Duc Tho, who refused to share the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Adolf Hitler forbade three German laureates -- Richard Kuhn (Chemistry 1938), Adolf Butenandt (Chemistry 1939) and Gerhard Domagk (Medicine 1939) -- from accepting the prize, while Soviet authorities forced Boris Pasternak to decline the 1958 Literature Prize.