It's Nobel season! The Oscars for geeks, who are, waiting in tense apprehension, at the edge of their seats to find out who will be awarded the next Nobel prize. Believe it or not, large sums of money will be changing hands as the Nobel committee announces their decision every day for the next week.
And if you are one of those trying to make a quick buck on the likely winners, it will be a wise decision to bet on the nominees that are either from or have a connection to Switzerland. Statistically speaking, the Swiss (and by extension you) would have a very likely shot at winning!
Switzerland boasts of not just the largest number of Nobels per capita but also has the most number of associations with non-Swiss Nobel laureates, with a majority of them having completed their winning work in the country. Numerous Swiss organisations, including Doctors without Borders and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), too, have bagged this precious award.
A little background:
So the Nobel prizes, initiated by Alfred Nobel (who was Swedish, by the way), started in 1895 as per his last Will, a trust fund and explicit instructions left behind by Nobel. Between 1901 and 2012, the prizes have been awarded 555 times to 862 winners, of which 838 are individuals and 24 are organisations.
Of these, the little nation of Switzerland boasts of 24 Nobel prize recipients along with a close association with over 70 other Nobel laureates. In fact, according to the Lausanne talent incubator IMD, Switzerland boasts 1.111 Nobel prizes per million inhabitants!
It started right at the beginning, with the first ever Nobel Peace prize awarded to Jean Henri Dunant (1901), the founder of ICRC, which by the way, itself has won three Nobels (1917, 1944, 1963)
Jean Henri Dunant
He was followed by Elie Ducommun, a peace activist, and Charles Albert Gobat, a lawyer, of the International Peace Bureau (1902).
Then there was Emil Theodor Kocher the physician who was credited for the surgical instrument “Kocher's forceps” (1909).
Emil Theodor Kocher
Then Paul Hermann Muller (1948) for creating insecticide that helped control diseases like Malaria and Yellow Fever.
Paul Hermann Muller
Then there were those others, that were awarded their Swiss citizenship along with (and sometimes even after) their Nobel prizes.
Albert Einstien (1921), for instance, one of the most brilliant minds to have ever lived, was originally German (we all know how that worked out for him) and lived in a number countries including the USA. Although, it is worth noting that his Nobel-worthy “theory of relativity” was completed in Bern, Switzerland.
There are also others like Kofi Annan, former General Secretary of the United Nations, who although is Ghanian, suspiciously received his Swiss citizenship the same year as his Nobel award.
Or the Austrian-born Wolfgang Pauli (1945), who became a Swiss only much after his Nobel prize. This does beg the question if the Swiss government actually has a committee that “head hunts” for likely Nobel laureates and offers them citizenships.
So, is it just a co-incidence that a nation as tiny as Switzerland (population: 8,077,833 in 2013) could produce the largest number of Nobel Laureate? And although that doesn't mean they have the largest number of Nobels (It ranks sixth in countries with highest numbers of Nobels), it does speak volumes about the “intellectual index” of the nation.
Reports even go as far as to explain that high chocolate consumption may result in higher cognitive abilities and more Nobel prizes.
Tell us why you think the Swiss are such a Nobel friendly country.