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.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, FRS was born on this date in 1858. He was a German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einsteins theory of relativity revolutionized the understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of twentieth century physics.
Charles Gates Dawes died on this date in 1951. He was an American banker and politician who was the 30th Vice President of the United States (1925–1929). For his work on the Dawes Plan for World War I reparations he was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. Dawes served in the First World War, was the Comptroller of the Currency, the first director of the Bureau of the Budget, and, in later life, the Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Johannes Andreas Grib Fibiger was born in Silkeborg on this date in 1867. He was a Danish scientist, physician, and professor of pathological anatomy who won the 1926 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Fibiger had claimed to find an organism he called Spiroptera carcinoma that caused cancer in mice and rats. He received a Nobel prize for this discovery. Later, it was shown that this specific organism was not the primary cause of the tumors. Moreover, Katsusaburo Yamagiwa, only two years later in 1915 successfully induced squamous cell carcinoma by painting crude coal tar on the inner surface of rabbits’ ears. Yamagiwa’s work has become the primary basis for this line of research. Because of this, some consider Fibiger’s Nobel Prize to be undeserved particularly because Yamagiwa did not receive the prize. Encyclopædia Britannica’s guide to Nobel Prizes in cancer research mentions Yamagiwa’s work as a milestone without mentioning Fibiger.
Roger Martin du Gard was born on this date in 1881. He was a French author and winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature. Trained as a paleographer and archivist, Martin du Gard brought to his works a spirit of objectivity and a scrupulous regard for detail. Because of his concern with documentation and with the relationship of social reality to individual development, he has been linked with the realist and naturalist traditions of the 19th century. His major work was The Thibaults, a multi-volume roman fleuve that follows the fortunes of the two brothers, Antoine and Jacques Thibault, from their upbringing in a prosperous Catholic bourgeois family to the end of the First World War. Six parts of the novel were published between 1922 and 1929; Martin du Gard abandoned a seventh in manuscript before completing the two final installments, l’Été 1914 and l’Épilogue. Written under the shadow of the darkening international situation in Europe in the 1930s, these last parts, which together are longer than the previous six combined, focus on the political and historical situation leading up to the outbreak of the First World War, and conclude with the death of Antoine Thibault in 1918. Martin du Gard wrote several other novels, including Jean Barois, which was set against the historical context of the Dreyfus Affair. During the Second World War, he resided in Nice, where he prepared a novel (Souvenirs du lieutenant-colonel de Maumort) that remained unfinished at his death; it was posthumously published in 1983. His other works include plays and a memoir of André Gide, a longtime friend. Roger Martin du Gard died in 1958 and was buried in the Cimiez Monastery Cemetery in Cimiez, a suburb of the city of Nice, France.
Halldór Kiljan Guðjónsson Laxness was born on this date in 1902. He was a twentieth-century Icelandic writer. Throughout his career Laxness wrote poetry, newspaper articles, plays, travelogues, short stories, and novels. Major influences included August Strindberg, Sigmund Freud, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, Bertolt Brecht and Ernest Hemingway. He received the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature; he is the only Icelandic Nobel laureate.
Lester Bowles “Mike” Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE was born on this date in 1897. He was a Canadian scholar, statesman, soldier and diplomat, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis. He was the 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 22 April 1963 to 20 April 1968, as the head of two back-to-back Liberal minority governments following elections in 1963 and 1965. During Pearson’s time as Prime Minister, his Liberal minority governments introduced universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada, and the new Flag of Canada. Pearson also convened the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, and he struggled to keep Canada out of the Vietnam War. In 1967, his government passed Bill C-168, which abolished capital punishment in Canada de facto – by restricting it to a few capital offenses for which it was never used, and which themselves were abolished in 1976. With these accomplishments, together with his groundbreaking work at the United Nations and in international diplomacy, Pearson is generally considered among the most influential Canadians of the 20th century and is regularly ranked as one of the greatest Canadian Prime Ministers.