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If you are living in the northern hemisphere, autumn is a time for enjoying all kinds of colorful fall activities such as leaf peeping, apple picking, pumpkin carving, shopping endlessly for the perfect Halloween costume, trick or treating and rounding off October with a sugar rush or even tummy ache! While many of us are exploring autumn in its full glory, scientists, physicians, writers, economists and humanitarians around the world are patiently waiting for the biggest announcement of the year - the Nobel Prize.

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor and philanthropist who gave away a lot of his money to charity. He invented the dynamite and smokeless gun powder among many other things. Using his invention, explosives of all kinds were being manufactured all over the world. This way, he became very rich. He was worried about what people would think of him because of how he made his fortune. He had no wife or children to give his fortune to. So, before died in 1896, he made a will and donated all his fortune to a prize fund named after him.

The Nobel prize was set up to recognize curiosity, creativity, courage and outstanding achievements that brought the greatest benefit to humankind. The winners are called Nobel Laureates. It is given in five categories: Medicine, Chemistry, Physics, Literature and Peace. A 6th prize for economics was added to the list in 1969. Every year, each Nobel Prize is announced on different dates. These dates fall in the second week of October. The prizes are awarded in December. The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway. All other prizes are awarded at a banquet in Stockholm, Sweden. Each category can be won by up to three people. Only the Peace Prize can be awarded to an organization. Each winner gets a unique gold medal, a hand-crafted diploma and a large sum of money.

This year’s Laureates are:

● Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the Chemistry Prize. These two female chemists are recognized for the discovery of “genetic scissors” that can edit genes and help cure inherited diseases!
● The Literature Prize is awarded to American female poet Louise Glück. Her writing is recognized for being sharp and able to draw in people who don’t usually read poems.
● The Medicine Prize goes to three researchers - Charles M. Rice, Harvey J. Alter, and Michael Houghton, for the discovery of the virus Hepatitis C. Sometimes, sick people might need to get blood transferred to them from others donors. Before this amazing discovery, there was a high risk of getting contaminated blood due to the virus. Now, their discovery has led to safe blood transfusion. The doctors know to look for this virus.
● The Physics Prize goes to three researchers for the discovery of Black holes and its existence at the center of our galaxy! The recipients are Sir Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
● The Peace Prize goes to The World Food Program. They combat hunger and make sure more people have food. They prevent war from occuring due to hunger.
● The Economics Prize is awarded to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson for their work on auctions. Auctions are used in our everyday lives to allot all kinds of resources. For example, imagine there is a jar of coins and you need estimate the total value of the coins.

The most optimistic player would estimate a large value and pay an amount much more than the true value of the jar to buy it. This is called a “winner’s curse." The person that won the estimate is actually one that lost because they paid much more than the actual worth of the jar. Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson have worked to improve this bidding process.

Why is all this relevant for us to know? The Nobel Prize website has lots of resources that explain all the outstanding contributions in a kid-friendly way. Learning about this can be very inspiring to us and we can aspire to make contributions to humankind in our own unique way!

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