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Pomp aplenty as winners gather for Nobel gala

AFP/The Local · 10 Dec 2009, 19:35

Published: 10 Dec 2009 19:35 GMT+01:00

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The laureates in literature, economics, medicine, physics and chemistry received their prizes at a gala ceremony. The formal 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 white and green flowers for the occasion.

The laureates, royal family and specially-invited guests were clad in white tie dress for men and evening gowns for women.

A record five women were awarded Nobels this year -- nearly one-eighth of the 41 awards to female recipients in the 108-year history of the prize.

Romanian-born German writer Herta Müller won the Nobel Literature Prize for her work inspired by her life under Nicolae Ceausescu's dictatorship in Romania.

Australian-American Elizabeth Blackburn and US researcher Carol Greider shared the Medicine Prize with Jack Szostak of the United States for research into cellular ageing.

Israel's Ada Yonath shared the Chemistry Prize with Indian-born Ramakrishnan Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and US scientist Thomas Steitz for work on the ribosome, a cellular machine that makes proteins.

And in a major breakthrough, Elinor Ostrom of the US won the Economics Prize -- the first time a woman has won in that field -- together with Oliver Williamson, another US national, for their separate research on fighting waste in organisations.

The Physics Prize was swept however by men: Hong-Kong based scientist Charles Kao, Canadian-US research Willard Boyle and George Smith of the US were honoured for work on fibre optics and light sensing that helped unleash the Information Technology revolution.

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The Nobel prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma, and 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) per discipline, to be shared if there is more than one recipient.

The Stockholm ceremony was to be followed by a gala banquet and ball for some 1,300 invited guests.

Earlier on Thursday, US President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize at a separate ceremony in Oslo.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

00:37 December 11, 2009 by dizzymoe33
I am from the U.S. and I am disappointed that President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize he has done nothing for peace.

I am happy for the other Nobel Peace Prize winners. I think it is fantastic.
03:10 December 11, 2009 by Davey-jo
I'm just a tad confused. The BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8405033.stm) says the ceremony was in Oslo but this says it was in Stockholm. Are there parallel universes?

I'm not that bothered either way; Nobel means nothing but blood to me.
04:14 December 11, 2009 by Veronika Larsson
Hej Davey-jo!

It is a bit confusing.

The Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo, Norway.

The other Nobel Prizes are handed out in Stockholm.

As an economics student, I am very happy to see a woman as co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in economics! Gives me hope for my own future!
09:15 December 11, 2009 by daily_reader
i would rather say it was simply fantastic, the award winners must be appreciated, rather than distributing so called peace prize to 'killing peace holder' mr. obama.
13:05 December 11, 2009 by NickM
I agree with the editorial written by The Local editor Paul OMahoney on this.

There was something ridiculously lavish about this event for privileged royal, political and intellectual elites. In a time when Sweden's economy is screaming, a far more modest ceremony would have been both more considerate and tasteful.

The Nobel committee has lost a great deal of credibility by awarding it's top prize to Obama and this only makes them look worse.

14:18 December 11, 2009 by MichaelZWilliamson
NickM: It's a different committee that awards the Peace Prize.

The Peace Prize committee is in Norway, and doesn't discriminate based on race, gender, religion or even ability or competence.
18:27 December 11, 2009 by NickM
Thanks Michael - I didn't mean to confuse the two!
19:00 December 11, 2009 by lingonberrie
Yes, the Peace Prize committee is in Norway, but Obama still received a Nobel Prize and for those who do not care to split fine hairs, the provenance matters little.

I heard his speech spinning the "necessary" wars ballad written by the United States, and the fact that this phony has a Nobel forever decreases the value of the Nobel Prize.
00:41 December 12, 2009 by NickM
I just watched a rerun of the speech too.

You can see how people fall for Obama. He speaks with intelligence, compassion and a grounding in the realities of politics unlike Bush who no one could take seriously. However, you don't judge a man on his words - you judge him on his actions which in todays marketing/PR dominated society is all too easily forgotten.

I'm sure many of the Nazis were nice people too. But their actions were monstrous because the system they were working in was monstrous. Obama faces similar restrictions and compromises in the monster that is neo-liberal capitalism that mean whatever comes out of his mouth is unfortunately meaningless, however wonderful and compelling he sounds.

At the end of the day, he represents business interests and it would take a man of unbelievable moral fiber - and a groundswell of public to support him - to fight against that. I don't think Obama is that man.
02:58 December 12, 2009 by Davey-jo
Hej Veronika Larsson

If you don't get the prize for economics you should get the prize for politeness. If I'd read to the last paragraph all would have been clear but you were too polite to say what an idiot I'd been! Good luck in your chosen career.
12:02 December 12, 2009 by barryberry
As a Chinese in Hong Kong, I'm glad Mr Charles Kao got a Nobel Prize in Physics! His achievement indeed affects everyone all over the world! Without him, we don't have internet and we can't comment here! But sadly Kao suffered from Alzhimer's disease. It's really a pity for him to wait for the prize over 40 years! Some people even said it's a belated prize.

But it's better to be late than never. This prize is not only a recognition for Kao's far-reaching invention, but also for Chinese people's status in the world!
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