Society: Arts and Science – April 8


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.
Róbert Bárány died on this date in 1936. He was an Austro-Hungarian otologist. For his work on the physiology and pathology of the vestibular apparatus of the ear he received the 1914 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Erik Axel Karlfeldt died on this date in 1931. 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.
Daniel Bovet ForMemRS died on this date in 1992. He was a Swiss-born Italian pharmacologist who won the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of drugs that block the actions of specific neurotransmitters. He is best known for his discovery in 1937 of antihistamines, which block the neurotransmitter histamine and are used in allergy medication. His other research included work on chemotherapy, sulfa drugs, the sympathetic nervous system, the pharmacology of curare, and other neuropharmacological interests. In 1965, Bovet led a study team which concluded that smoking of tobacco cigarettes increased users’ intelligence. He told The New York Times that the object was not to “create geniuses, but only [to] put the less-endowed individual in a position to reach a satisfactory mental and intellectual development. Bovet was born in Fleurier, Switzerland. He was a native Esperanto speaker. He graduated from the University of Geneva in 1927 and received his doctorate in 1929. Beginning in 1929 until 1947 he worked at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He then moved in 1947 to the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Superior Institute of Health) in Rome. In 1964, he became a professor in at the University of Sassari in Italy. From 1969 to 1971, he was the head of the National Research Council in Rome before stepping down to become a professor at the University of Rome La Sapienza. He retired in 1982.
Melvin Ellis Calvin was born on this date in 1911. He was an American chemist most famed for discovering the Calvin cycle along with Andrew Benson and James Bassham, for which he was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He spent most of his five-decade career at the University of California, Berkeley.