The biggest Nobel Prize snubs: 6 great people who never won


When the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, many thought the honor should have gone to Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani activist who had survived being shot in the head by the Taliban the year before for campaigning for female education.

Luckily, we didn't have to wait long for Yousafzai to receive her Nobel Peace Prize this year. Though this was a case of a very high-profile individual receiving the honor, there have been many well-known leaders, scientists and authors who have shockingly not been awarded a Nobel Prize for their work. Here are some of the biggest Nobel prize snubs in history.

1. Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times — in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948 — but he was never awarded the honor. Many see Gandhi as the epitome of a Nobel Laureate for his use of non-violence to lead India to independence in 1947. The Nobel Committee has never publicly commented on why Gandhi did not receive the award, although some evidence suggests that he would have won the award if he had not been assassinated before the Nobel Peace Prize recipient was announced in 1948.

2. Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking has become one of the most famous contemporary astrophysicists who is best known for his theory that black holes will eventually evaporate and disappear, which created a unification of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. However, the inability to test Hawking's theory through observation has probably kept him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. But it hasn't kept him from joking about it.

3. Eleanor Roosevelt

Before, during and after her time as First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt devoted her life to fighting for civil and human rights. Though she was nominated several times, Roosevelt never won the honor. Theodore Roosevelt is the only member of this famous family to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, which he won in 1906 for negotiating peace treaties in the Russo-Japanese War and between the U.S. and Mexico.

4. Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine, which helped virtually eradicate the disease that paralyzed 13,000 to 20,000 people annually. Although Salk never received a Nobel Prize for his work, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif. has trained five Nobel Laureates.

5. Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy is widely regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time, having written classic novels such as Anna Karenina and War and Peace. However, Tolstoy never became a Nobel Laureate, which was actually quite controversial. According to Alfred Nobel's instructions for the Nobel Prize for Literature in his will, the award was to be given to "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." This was interpreted to mean a "conservative idealism," which upheld church, state and family, so Tolstoy, in addition to Henrik Ibsen and Emile Zola, was rejected based on that criteria.

6. Rosalind Franklin

This is one of the sadder omissions from the Nobel Prizes. Rosalind Franklin used X-rays to take what would come to be known as "Photograph 51" and would reveal the helical structure of DNA. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for discovering the molecular structure of DNA. Unfortunately, Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958, and since Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously, she was not eligible to share the honor with them. However, when the archives on the prize's nominees were released in 2008, it was revealed that Franklin was never even nominated.

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