Who won the first Nobel Prize and why?

Question from Reggie Doyle

When he died, the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel left instructions that his vast wealth should provide annual prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace, for individuals who “during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”.

So there were five first Nobel prizes, awarded in 1901 to: Wilhelm Röntgen, for discovering X-rays; Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff, for discovering the laws of chemical
dynamics and osmotic pressure; Emil Adolf von Behring, for developing a serum for diphtheria; Sully Prudhomme, for poetic composition; and, jointly, to peace activist Frédéric Passy and the founder of the Red Cross, Jean Henry Dunant.

Answered by Tom Lean for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 97.

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