War and disaster inspire record number of Nobel nominations

If you believe the bookmakers, this morning's winner, who will receive a gold medal and 10m Swedish kronor (£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 Bárány, 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 Bárány, 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.

"The basic rulebook for the committees - five of which are in Stockholm (physics, medicine, chemistry, economics, literature) and one of which is in Oslo (peace) - has hardly changed. In the autumn, each committee sends out 3,000 letters inviting nominations for the following year. The letters are sent to former prize-winners and major universities and institutions all over the world.

Nominees are sifted by the Nobel committees and shortlists are submitted to a body of elders who make the final choice. The exception is the peace prize. The Oslo committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, is not required to submit its proposed winner for approval to an outside body. The committee's decision is the final decision.

As a result, even though the Peace Prize has often sparked outside controversy - for instance when it was awarded to Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat and Menachem Begin - it is the most consensual of the six Nobel awards.

The main contenders

* BONO AND BOB GELDOF: Both have campaigned to eradicate world poverty and have put pressure on world leaders to cancel the debts of Africa's poorest countries.

* MARTTI AHTISAARI: The former Finnish president has a distinguished record of participation in peace initiatives. He brokered talks between Jakarta and rebels in Aceh.

* RICHARD LUGAR AND SAM NUNN: Anti-nuclear campaigners feature prominently among names being tipped as winners thanks to the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima.

* MOHAMED ELBARADEI: The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is known for his skills in tackling nuclear issues within Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices