Nobel things to do, ranked by difficulty

What to do during the Nobel week if you are a student in Stockholm?

#1: Go to the future with a time machine, then go to the Nobel Center.

The Nobel Foundation is planning to build a Nobel Center to house the award ceremony (but not the banquet), the museum, the Foundation offices, and other Nobel-related activities, ready for inauguration in 2019; or at least that was the plan. Please report back in case you can’t find it because there are criticisms against it, including one from the King himself.

#2: Get a Nobel Prize.

Easy peasy, just make sure you have some earth-shattering findings. Hej, W. Lawrence Braggs got his Nobel prize when he was 25, so it’s not like you and I have zero chance, right?

#3: Attend the Students’ Nobel Nightcap, the after-party after the ceremony.

This is quite high in difficulty because it is a lottery, so technically it is not something you can buy. If you are a member of student union in KTH/SU/SSE/KI in Stockholm, you can buy the lottery tickets. Crossing my fingers this year.

#4: Gawk at the Nobel banquet menu and try menu from ages past.

For some reason, the banquet menu makes the news every year. If you fail to do #2 and #3, gather 9 or more of your friends and taste any Nobel banquet menu from year 1901 at the restaurant Stadshuskällaren (=City Hall Cellar) at the city hall where the banquet is held  (difficulty depends on your wallet capacity of course, and whether you have any friends).

#5: Attend the Nobel lectures.

The Nobel lectures are open to public, but the lecture halls often have not enough capacity. I went to (or tried to) attend the Physiology or Medicine lecture last year and the auditorium reached its capacity limit just after the person in front of me went in (grrrr). The Physiology or Medicine lecture is usually held in Aula Medica, Karolinska Institutet; Physics, Chemistry, and Economic Sciences in Aula Magna, Stockholm University; Literature at the Swedish Academy, Stockholm; Peace in Oslo City Hall, Norway. By tradition, the laureates might visit Uppsala University too. And there is always that lazy option in the digital age: watch the streamings.

Here is the schedule:
Physiology or Medicine: 7 Dec 2016 14:30, Aula Medica
Physics: 8 Dec 2016 09:00, Aula Magna
Chemistry: 8 Dec 2016 11:00, Aula Magna
Economic Sciences: 8 Dec 2016 14:00, Aula Magna
Literature: (Bob Dylan is not coming for the ceremony so no lecture in December, but possibly in spring 2017)
Peace: 10 Dec 2016 13:00, Oslo City Hall

#6: Visit the Nobel museum.

You just need 70kr for entry (student price as of Dec 2016). If you go on Tuesday 17:00-20:00 you can go for free! I was a bit dismayed by the size (don’t expect Naturhistoriska scale) but surely you can learn something there. You can learn about Alfred Nobel, the Prizes, the Prize committees, see artifacts donated by Nobel laureates, and watch short clips about a laureate or a research institute with many Nobel laureates or other related subjects. For younger visitors, there are hands-on small-scale experiments related to Nobel prize discoveries.

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Alfred Nobel's poem

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“You say I am a riddle — it may be
For all of us riddles unexplained.
Begun in pain, in deeper torture ended,
This breathing clay what business has it here?
— Alfred Nobel

There is also a short 15-minute lecture (at 16:15) with diverse Nobel-related topics. When I went there, for example, the topic was the controversy in awarding Fritz Haber a Nobel prize. He invented the Haber process which produces ammonia (you might learn this in high school chemistry; I did). Problem is, he was also instrumental in the production of poisonous gases used during World War I. Should morality be taken into account in awarding a Nobel prize? The debate continues yet.

By the way, you can buy chocolate Nobel Prize medallion in the museum shop if you fail to do #2.

#7: Visit other Nobel ceremony-related places.

The award ceremony would be in Konserthuset (the concert hall) and the banquet would be in Stadshuset (the city hall). Both are great cultural and historical places in their own right, even without the Nobel prize ceremony and banquet. They offer guided tours: Konserthuset | Stadshuset.

#8: Visit other lesser known Nobel-related places.

Ok, fine, I know you like living at the edge and don’t want simply the boring experience of the mainstream masses. These are not difficult places to visit, but certainly fewer people can claim to even know about them!

First off, you can visit the Prize awarders. You might remember when I wrote about Nobel Forum at Karolinska Institutet that houses the Nobel Assembly who decides Physiology or Medicine prize. For Physics, Chemistry and Economic Sciences, go to The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences. For Literature, The Swedish Academy. For Peace, The Norwegian Nobel Institute.  They are located in public places, but to enter the buildings and look around might be another story. But remember you are a student! Pester your student union or study director to arrange a visit (my department is arranging a visit to the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, jealous? :p).

Finally, I reserve this for the most patient reader who reads all the way until the end. In 1864, prompted by a nitroglycerine explosion accident that killed 5 people, including his brother Emil, Alfred Nobel set up more factories. There was one that was located a distance from central Stockholm for safety, in Vinterviken, and you can visit it.

I went there the day after one particularly snowy day in November. The factory building and a few bunkers survived and the factory building now houses a café as well as events and conference halls. The factory is not hard to find but the bunkers might be challenging (at least for me at that time, because they were buried in snow!). To go here, go to T-bana station Örnsberg and go north until you reach Lake Mälaren. Walk along the lake shore to the east and you will encounter the bunkers along the way. Keep walking, and you will find the factory building. Go in for fika and/or toilet break. There are a few photographs on display regarding the history of the building when it was used as a factory.

Nobel-related or not, Vinterviken offers great view of Mälaren and charming walking trails (especially when buried with snow).

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The factory building is lurking somewhere in the above collage. See if you can find it!

Have a fruitful Nobel week!

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