Oldest laureates absent

The glittering Nobel prize festivities Monday will be a little less luminous without the presence of literature laureate Doris Lessing of Britain, who at 88 was unable to travel to Stockholm due to ill health.

Oldest laureates absent
Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/Pressens Bild/

But the other star of the 2007 Nobel season, former US vice president Al Gore who shared the prize with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), arrived in Oslo on Friday.

The prizes for literature, physics, medicine, chemistry and economics are presented each year at a formal ceremony in Stockholm and the peace prize is awarded in Oslo, as tradition dictates on December 10th, the anniversary of the death of prize creator Alfred Nobel.

Also absent due to advanced age this year is economics prizewinner Leonid Hurwicz, who chose not to make the trip given the laureates’ hectic schedule, with several days of non-stop lectures, press conferences, parties and events.

At 90, Hurwicz, who shared his prize with two US economists, is the oldest Nobel laureate in history.

Lessing is meanwhile the oldest of the Nobel literature winners.

“Doris Lessing has been ill for some time but had very much hoped to be able to come to Stockholm. Unfortunately her medical advisors have said that she must not travel,” the Nobel foundation said in a statement in late November.

At a time when world experts are gathered in Bali to discuss a new climate change pact, Gore is expected to make his voice heard on the climate issue in Oslo.

Upon arriving in the Norwegian capital on Friday, he immediately displayed his green credentials by taking a high-speed airport train shuttle rather than a limousine to travel into the city centre.

“It’s a metaphor for the challenge the world community now must confront… Some of the new steps that are good for the environment are going to improve our lives in other ways,” he said.

Gore will share the spotlight on Monday with Indian scientist Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman who will receive the award on behalf of the panel.

The pair will hold a joint press conference on Sunday before they receive their prize and hold their Nobel speeches at Monday’s ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall in the presence of Norway’s King Harald.

The event will feature Indian music, as well as pieces by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, Rossini and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

The following day, Hollywood stars Kevin Spacey and Uma Thurman will co-host the traditional Nobel concert, featuring among others Kylie Minogue, Annie Lennox, Earth, Wind and Fire, Alicia Keys and Morten Harket, the lead singer of Norwegian pop group A-Ha.

In Stockholm, eight of the prizewinners will be on hand for the illustrious ceremony: economics laureates Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson of the United States; Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies of the US and Briton Martin Evans for the medicine prize; Gerhard Ertl of Germany for the chemistry prize; and physics laureates Peter Gruenberg of Germany and Albert Fert of France.

On Monday afternoon at Stockholm’s Concert Hall, they will receive their Nobel medals and diplomas from the hands of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, as well as a cheque worth 10 million kronor ($1.56 million) to be shared if there are several winners in the same category.

The ceremony will be followed by a royal gala dinner and ball at City Hall for 1,250 guests, with long gowns for women and tails for men.