Society: Arts and Science – July 20


The Nobel Prize is bestowed annually in categories as selected by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural or scientific advances. The 1895 will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes.
Guglielmo Marconi, 1st Marchese of Marconi died on this date in 1937. He was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi’s law and a radio telegraph system. Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio, and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”. An entrepreneur, businessman, and founder in 1897 of The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company (which became the Marconi Company), Marconi succeeded in making a commercial success of radio by innovating and building on the work of previous experimenters and physicists. In 1924, the King of Italy ennobled Marconi as a Marchese.
Erik Axel Karlfeldt was born on this date in 1864. He was a Swedish poet whose highly symbolist poetry masquerading as regionalism was popular and won him the Nobel Prize in Literature posthumously in 1931. It has been rumored that he had been offered, but declined, the award already in 1919. Karlfeldt was born into a farmer’s family in Karlbo, in the province of Dalarna. Initially, his name was Erik Axel Eriksson, but he assumed his new name in 1889, wanting to distance himself from his father, who had suffered the disgrace of a criminal conviction. He studied at Uppsala University, simultaneously supporting himself by teaching school in several places, including Djursholms samskola in the Stockholm suburb of Djursholm and at a school for adults. After completing his studies, he held a position at the Royal Library of Sweden, in Stockholm, for five years. In 1904 Karlfeldt was elected a member of the Swedish Academy and held chair number 11. In 1905 he was elected a member of the Nobel Institute of the Academy, and, in 1907, of the Nobel Committee. In 1912 he was elected permanent secretary of the Academy, a position he held until his death. Uppsala University, Karlfeldt’s alma mater, awarded him the title of Doctor honoris causae in 1917.
Tadeusz Reichstein was born on this date in 1897. He was a Polish chemist residing in Switzerland and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine laureate (1950). Reichstein was born into a Jewish family at Włocławek, Kingdom of Poland. His parents were Gastava (Brockmann) and Isidor Reichstein.[4] He spent his early childhood at Kiev, where his father was an engineer. He began his education at boarding-school in Jena, Germany. In 1933, working in Zürich, Switzerland, Reichstein succeeded, independently of Sir Norman Haworth and his collaborators in the United Kingdom, in synthesizing vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in what is now called the Reichstein process. Together with E. C. Kendall and P. S. Hench, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1950 for their work on hormones of the adrenal cortex which culminated in the isolation of cortisone. In later years, Reichstein became interested in the phytochemistry and cytology of ferns, publishing at least 80 papers on these subjects in the last three decades of his life. He had a particular interest in the use of chromosome number and behavior in the interpretation of histories of hybridization and polyploidy, but also continued his earlier interest in the chemical constituents of the plants. He died in Basel, Switzerland. The principal industrial process for the artificial synthesis of Vitamin C still bears his name. Reichstein was the longest-lived Nobel laureate at the time of his death, but was surpassed in 2008 by Rita Levi-Montalcini.