Prestigious Science Awards
- Nobel Prize
- Lasker Awards
- Wolf Prize
- Breakthrough Prize
- Abel Prize
Although actors, musicians, and athletes tend to be the focus of awards shows, the science world has some pretty prestigious honors – it also offers a pretty spectacular Oscars-like award show in the Breakthrough Prize – too. Of course, none of the others can match the prestige – or the name recognition – of the Nobel Prize. However, being able to take home any of these honors is something that every scientist dreams of doing.
There are few awards of any type better known than this one. Every year in Sweden and Norway, deserving men and women are honored in the fields of chemistry, economics, literature, peace, physics and physiology or medicine. Each of those honored receives a diploma, a gold medal and more than $1 million if there is only one winner in that category. Two or three people being honored in a single category split the funds. Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor, used nearly 95 percent of his fortune to fund the Nobel Prize; the first awards were given in 1901, five years after he died.
The Lasker Awards, which have been awarded by the Lasker Foundation since 1945, are given to people "who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of human disease." Its categories include the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award, Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award and Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science. Each of the winners is awarded $250,000, and nearly 100 people who have received these honors have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize.
These honors have been awarded by the Wolf Foundation since 1978, and winners receive a diploma and $100.000. The categories include agriculture, physics, medicine, chemistry, mathematics and arts. A number of people feel that winning one of these awards is the second-most prestigious honor behind the Nobel Prize. In fact, about half of those who win Wolf Foundation honors in physics have gone on to claim a Nobel Prize. Also, there is no Nobel Prize in the category of agriculture, and many believe that the Wolf Prize is the most prestigious honor you can earn in that field.
Although this set of awards is new, dating to 2012, it has already earned quite a reputation due to the amount of money its winners receive – $3 million – and the lavishness of its televised awards ceremony, which are designed to mimic the Oscars. Nearly $22 million in prizes were claimed at the 2015 ceremony, which took place in the heart of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, Calif. Breakthrough Prizes are awarded in fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics.
The Abel Prize was created due to there being no mathematics category at the Nobel Prize awards ceremony, making it the de facto Nobel Prize of mathematics. In fact, Sophus Lie made plans to create this award in 1902 shortly after learning that there would be no Nobel Prize in mathematics, but his death caused interest to wane until it was renewed nearly 100 years later. The Norwegian government established it in 2001, and it was named after Niels Henrik Abel, a Norwegian mathematician who was not recognized for his amazing accomplishments until after his short life, which lasted 26 years, ended. Those who win this honor receive about $750,000.
Although the Nobel Prize may have started it all, that set of awards has garnered plenty of company over the years, especially in the past few decades. Perhaps more will be created in the near future in order to further give these deserving people the credit they deserve.