W hen Alfred N obel died in 1896, he left what was then a princely estate: m ore than thirty-three m illion kroner, or about nine m illion Am erican dollars.1 It was a legacy destined to becom e one of the m ost fam ous of its kind in modern history. H is will specified that the bulk of the estate be put aside in a fund, its annual incom e to be divided among five prizes: three in science, one in literature, and one to advance the cause of world peace. N obel could not, o f course, have foreseen that his prizes in the sciences would becom e the ultim ate sym bol of excel­ lence for scientists and laym en alike and that those in literature and peace, although more controversial than the others, w ould also carry their share of international prestige. 1

1. A nine-million-dollar estate these days seems skimpy for Nobel’s purpose. In terms of the economists’ standard 1967 dollars, however, his fortune comes to the far from negligible sum of thirty-seven million dollars and, in terms of the inflated currency of 1975, it amounts to sixty-one million dollars. See Bergengren (1962), the “official” biography of Nobel, and other biographies by Evlanoff and Fluor (1969), Halasz (1959), and Shaplen (1958).