A glance at secret process behind Nobel delay

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm •  Published: October 8, 2013

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Nobel Prize judges delayed the announcement of the physics winner by an hour Tuesday — but they can't say why for 50 years.

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert won the 2013 award for their theory about how subatomic particles acquire mass.

Here's a glance explaining the secretive Nobel process and the complicated task of rewarding no more than three people when a discovery is claimed by many more.


Each prize — medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics — has its own prize committee. Those panels receive up to hundreds of submissions each year from people with nomination rights. For physics, they include professors at selected universities, previous laureates and the 615 members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The academy's six-member Nobel Committee for physics spends months investigating each year's nominations with the help of specially appointed experts. The committee then recommends up to three winners, who must be formally approved by the full academy in a majority vote on the day of the announcement, which is normally in October. Academy officials try to call the winners right before they announce their decision at a news conference.


The Nobel announcements are delivered right on schedule most of the time. If they are late, it's rarely by as much as an hour. In 2008, the physics judges missed their deadline by a half hour and the chemistry committee had a more than one-hour delay in 1990. Academy members don't want to say why because their deliberations are supposed to be kept secret for 50 years — one of the many peculiarities of the Nobel process.