Nobel laureates receive prizes in Stockholm

Nobel laureates receive prizes in Stockholm
The 2008 Nobel laureates in literature, economy, medicine, physics and chemistry received their prizes on Wednesday from the hands of Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm.

The lush event, held as tradition dictates on the anniversary of the death of prize founder Alfred Nobel in 1896, took place at Stockholm’s Concert Hall which was decked out in festive red and green flowers for the occasion.

The laureates, royal family and invited guests were clad in white tie dress for men and evening gowns for women, with a few kimonos spotted in the crowd.

This year’s literature prize went to French author Jean-Marie Le Clézio.

Two other French scientists, Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, were honoured with the medicine prize for their research into HIV/AIDS along with Harald zur Hausen of Germany who discovered the virus that causes cervical cancer.

Celebrated New York Times columnist and Princeton University professor Paul Krugman received the economics prize for his work on the impact of free trade and globalization.

The only absentee at Wednesday’s ceremony was American physics laureate Yoichiro Nambu, who at age 87 was not able to make the trip due to weak health.

His two Japanese co-laureates, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa, were however on hand to receive their prizes for their revolutionary work on the nature of subatomic particles and how they move.

The chemistry prize went to US researchers Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien and Osamu Shimomura of Japan for work with fluorescent protein from jellyfish, which is now a widely used research tool.

Perhaps the most prestigious Nobel, the Peace Prize, is the only one of the

awards presented in Oslo, in line with Nobel’s wishes.

It was presented earlier Wednesday to Finnish career diplomat and mediator Martti Ahtisaari, who was honoured for his conflict resolution efforts spanning the globe over 30 years, including in the Indonesian province of Aceh, in Namibia and the Balkans.

The Nobel prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma, and 10 million kronor ($1.2 million) per discipline, to be shared if there is more than one recipient.

The ceremony was then followed by a gala banquet and ball for 1,300 invited guests held in the Blue Hall of Stockholm’s famed City Hall (Stadshuset), which had been decorated with flowers from San Remo in Italy, where Nobel lived out his final days.

The dinner menu, which is kept secret until the last minute, included a starter of baked sole with Swedish shellfish, followed by a main course consisting of veal with Kark Johan mushrooms, celery crème, and potato terrine.

Guests were then treated to Poire belle Hélène, a French dessert consisting of ginger and vanilla poached pear on a bed of chocolate glazed almonds.

The Nobel banquet is a carefully choreographed affair, leaving no room for improvisation in the evening’s minute-for-minute schedule.

At precisely 7:02pm, the guests of the head table were welcomed with great fanfare as they entered the great hall.

This year, Queen Silvia wore a light blue silk gown with pink and gold trim designed by Jacques Zahnder, while Crown Princess Victoria had a fuchsia coloured silk dress designed by Pär Engsheden and Princess Madeleine wore a light pink taffeta dress with brown organza and chiffon, designed by fashion guru Lars Wallin.

More than one of every ten Swedes, roughly one million people, usually tune in to watch the Nobel dinner broadcast live on television.