Valentine’s Day Nobel Puzzle

by on February 14, 2015 at 8:45 am in Economics, Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Here is a Valentine’s Day puzzle: there have been five husband and wives awarded Nobel Prizes. Name them.

I will give you one hint. Four of the couples won for joint work. Only one of the couples each won a Nobel and that couple included a Nobel prize winner in economics.

1 Pete K February 14, 2015 at 9:13 am

The one that jumped out to me was Marie and Pierre Curie for discovering radioactivity.

2 David R. Henderson February 14, 2015 at 9:13 am

Oops, Pete K, you beat me by a nose.

3 dearieme February 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm

“a Nobel prize winner in economics”: ain’t no such thing.

4 Larry Siegel February 15, 2015 at 2:17 am

Yes, there is. Alfred Nobel does not have a monopoly on naming a prize after himself. The Nobel Foundation can do it too, and did.

5 Harold February 15, 2015 at 6:08 am

No, there isn’t. Just because someone name their prize after Alfred Nobel does not make it a Nobel Prize.

6 David R. Henderson February 14, 2015 at 9:13 am

Maybe we can build this answer with various commenters having input, because I certainly don’t know the whole answer. Indeed, I don’t even know the economist answer. So the low-hanging fruit is the Curies, right?

7 Todd February 14, 2015 at 9:13 am

Marie Curie, Pierre Curie: 1903 – Physics
Irene Joliot-Curie, Frederic Joliot: 1935 – Chemistry
Gerty Cori, Carl Cori: 1947 – Physiology/Medicine
Alva Myrdal, Gunnar Myrdal: Alva: 1982 – Peace ; Gunnar: 1974 – Economics
May-Britt, Edward Moser: 2014 – Medicine

How many individuals, like Marie Curie, have won more than one Nobel Prize? How many winners, like Marie Curie, have also had a child win a Prize (like Irene Joliot-Curie)?

8 David R. Henderson February 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

Nicely done, Todd. I had forgotten about Alva Myrdal.

9 RR February 14, 2015 at 9:42 am

Bardeen won 2 prizes in Physics for Superconductivity and the Transistor.

William Henry Bragg shared a Physics prize with his son William Lawrence Bragg.

10 RR February 14, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I knew only three. Googling, I find Frederic Sanger was the fourth and last to win 2 Nobels. These are Nobeler people.

11 prior_approval February 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Linus Pauling.

12 Krakau February 15, 2015 at 6:28 am

And Marie Curie’s second son-in-law, Henry Richardson Labouisse, did collect the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on behalf of UNICEF.

13 Ben February 26, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Also these
– Niels Bohr: 1922 – Physics, and his son Aage Bohr: 1975-Physics
– Hans von Euler-Chelpin: 1929 – Chemistry and his son Ulf von Euler: Medicene – 1970
– Manne Siegbahn: 1924 -Physcs, and his son Kai Siegbahn for physics in 1981

I find the most interesting to be the siblings Jan and Nikolaas Tinbergen, who won Nobels in different fields. Jan: 1969 – Economics, Nikolaas: 1973 – Medicine.

14 RR February 14, 2015 at 9:43 am

Also Linus Pauling won two : for Chemistry and Peace.

15 prior_approval February 14, 2015 at 12:59 pm

So much for reading further before writing.

16 Brian February 14, 2015 at 2:32 pm

And Pauling is the only person two win two unshared prizes.

17 Harold February 14, 2015 at 9:44 am

There is no Nobel prize in economics.

18 DJ February 14, 2015 at 10:52 am

What status does pointing this out confer to you? Are the only fields that matter the ones that Alfred Nobel picked out in 1900?

19 Harold February 14, 2015 at 11:12 am

“What status does pointing this out confer to you?”
Speaking of conferred status, why not ask why economists insist on pretending there is a Nobel prize in economics?
“Are the only fields that matter the ones that Alfred Nobel picked out in 1900?”
No, but the fields that Alfred Nobel picked out in 1900 are the only fields that Alfred Nobel picked out in 1900.

20 Curt F. February 14, 2015 at 11:58 am


21 carlolspln February 14, 2015 at 5:42 pm

The most commonly repeated category error @ Marginal Revolution-Background:

“The five real Nobel Prizes—physics, chemistry, literature, peace, and medicine/physiology—were set up in the will left by the dynamite magnate when he died in 1895. The economics prize is different. It was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1969, nearly 75 years later. The award’s real name is the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.” It was not established by Nobel, but supposedly in memory of Nobel. It’s a ruse and a PR trick & it was done completely against the wishes of the Nobel family.

Sweden’s Central Bank quietly snuck it in with all the other Nobel Prizes to give free-market economics for the 1% credibility. One of the Federal Reserve banks explained it succinctly, “Few realize, especially outside of economists, that the prize in economics is not an “official” Nobel. . . . The award for economics came almost 70 years later—bootstrapped to the Nobel in 1968 as a bit of a marketing ploy to celebrate the Bank of Sweden’s 300th anniversary.” Yes, you read that right: “a marketing ploy.”

“The Economics Prize has nestled itself in and is awarded as if it were a Nobel Prize. But it’s a PR coup by economists to improve their reputation,” Nobel’s great great nephew Peter Nobel told AFP in 2005, adding that “It’s most often awarded to stock market speculators …. There is nothing to indicate that [Alfred Nobel] would have wanted such a prize.”

Members of the Nobel family are among the harshest, most persistent critics of the economics prize, and members of the family have repeatedly called for the prize to be abolished or renamed. In 2001, on the 100th anniversery of the Nobel Prizes, four family members published a letter in the Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet, arguing that the economics prize degrades and cheapens the real Nobel Prizes. They aren’t the only ones.

Scientists never had much respect for the new economic Nobel prize. In fact, a scientist who headed Nixon’s Science Advisory Committee in 1969, was shocked to learn that economists were even allowed on stage to accept their award with the real Nobel laureates. He was incredulous: “You mean they sat on the platform with you?”

That hatred continues to simmer below the surface, and periodically breaks through and makes itself known. Most recently, in 2004, three prominent Swedish scientists and members of the Nobel committee published an open letter in a Swedish newspaper savaging the fraudulent “scientific” credentials of the Swedish Central Bank Prize in Economics. “The economics prize diminishes the value of the other Nobel prizes. If the prize is to be kept, it must be broadened in scope and be disassociated with Nobel,” they wrote in the letter, arguing that achievements of most of the economists who win the prize are so abstract and disconnected from the real world as to utterly meaningless” [snip]


22 Jonathan February 14, 2015 at 6:18 pm

“… most often awarded to stock market speculators.” Seriously? Even those who have funds, like Sharpe, are pretty much the opposite of stock market speculators, without even talking about, Akerlof, Schelling, Nash and the vast majority who have nothing to do with the stock market at all. I understand that the Nobel family is pissed, and I realize the prize is grafted onto the “real” Nobels, but the family undercuts their case by being clueless. The Economics price is awarded with the others at the same ceremony with the same stipend. I don’t think it’s not a real Stanley Cup if one of the original six teams don’t win it. Some do. For all I know Lord Stanley’s family thinks its a travesty when the Islanders win. Good for them.

23 Fazal Majid February 14, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Not to detract from your valid criticism of the economic pseudoscience’s delusions of rigor, but there isn’t a Nobel prize for Mathematics either (the nearest equivalent, the Fields Medal, is far more exclusive, being awarded only once every 4 years).

As for marketing, the whole Nobel prize venture, is an effort to distract attention from the source of the Nobel family wealth, the manufacture of explosives. The peace prize lacks credibility after having been granted to the likes of Kissinger or Obama. In comparison, the economics prize is not tainted with blood money, and it has been granted to left-leaning economists like Stiglitz or Krugman.

24 Harold February 15, 2015 at 2:34 am

Fazal Majid,
The nearest equivalent in mathematics, except in terms of renown, is the more recently established Abel Prize.

25 Paul Zrimsek February 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Wait until these nimrods find out that John Bates Clark had nothing to do with establishing the John Bates Clark Medal.

26 Ed February 14, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Whatever status comes from pointing out things that are correct.

27 eg February 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

Welcome to Marginal Revolution, a blog about economics! Enjoy your stay!

28 Harold February 14, 2015 at 11:12 am

thank you.

29 Paul Zrimsek February 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm

If the guy who likes to say “there is no Nobel prize in economics” and the guy who likes to say “the US is a republic, not a democracy” were both trapped on a burning barge and you only had time to save one of them, what kind of sandwich would you make?

30 Harold February 14, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Exactly, just make a sandwich; those intelligent and resourceful guys are, no doubt, perfectly capable of saving themselves.

31 Harold February 15, 2015 at 2:36 am

I forgot to mention that those guys, along with being intelligent and resourceful, are also handsome.

32 carlolspln February 15, 2015 at 1:30 am

I’m a long distance swimmer.

33 stalin February 15, 2015 at 12:18 pm

One that takes a long time to eat. It takes a while for a barge to burn.

34 Dan Lavatan February 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Anyone on a burning barge should be able to suppress the fire. It’s not like there isn’t any water around.

35 Blaise February 14, 2015 at 12:03 pm

5 Nobel prices for the Curie family. The son-in-law of Marie was the director of UNICEF when it received the peace Nobel price. Quite impressive.

36 Jim Jones February 14, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Sounds an awful lot like nepotism to me

37 Todd February 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

So the family hasn’t won won in 50 years? No we know the half-life of Curie Nobelactivity.

38 Todd February 14, 2015 at 1:30 pm

won “one”…and “Now” we know….

39 outsider February 15, 2015 at 11:42 pm

I didn’t even notice the mispellings. Must be one of those freaky things that happen sometimes.

40 rayward February 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Here’s a Valentine’s Day puzzle: Arthur Brooks describing, in today’s NYT for all to read, how to form a sexual relationship with someone in a way normal people would consider harassment. Brooks’ advice about love is about as off base as his advice about economics. The man is pleading, in a very public way, for help!

41 Virginia Postrel February 14, 2015 at 2:53 pm

I’m not a big Arthur Brooks fan, but that is a very strange reading of the article. The only thing resembling harassment was done by other people (“Men would shout wedding proposals to her from moving cars”), failed, and is not part of his recommendations. “Normal people” indeed.

42 Bill February 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Those guys knew how to pick their women.

43 Harold February 14, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Those gals knew how to pick their men.

44 jb February 16, 2015 at 7:44 am

Nobel was noble, but Abel was able.

45 No Belle ? February 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

The origin of the Nobel fortune:

Alfred Nobel came up with the idea of using his money for the prizes after his brother, Ludvig, died in 1888 and a French newspaper mistakenly thought it had been Alfred Nobel himself who died.  The newspaper published the obituary under the title: “The Merchant of Death is Dead”, going on to state: “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
Between 1865-1921 dynamite was manufactured at the Nobel factory at Vinterviken in the outskirts of Stockholm.
Working conditions were dangerous, and in the early years of development, there were many explosions and deaths. As a result of hosting almost a century of industry, Vinterviken is in fact, fraught with highly contaminated soil. This grim and violent past has left it’s mark. Nobel is most often remembered for creating a safer product, and celebrated for his contribution towards the peace and other prizes, but lying beneath the surface is another kind of legacy, This is toxic terrain. There are at least 10 different metals in the soils, among the highest concentrations are lead, copper, zinc and arsenic – some concentrations reaching over 28X the Swedish legal hazardous waste limits. Vinterviken has been included on the list of the county’s 10 most polluted areas.

Alfred Nobel also started weapons production at Bofors Industries.
Now the Nobel The Nobel Foundation plans to build an enormous Nobel Center in Stockholm. The whole site has to be excavated (with dynamite ?) down to 9 meters and large masses of clay and stone has to be transported through the fragile inner part of Stockholm.

The center will, if built, demolish a maritime heritage of great cultural and historical value; a customs house built in 1876 and two unique warehouses built in 1910 and totally change the scape in this fragile old part of the city. Clothing company H&M is sponsoring with 400 milj. SEK. The Customs House has great historical value as a representative of late-19th-century government and administrative buildings in general and of Stockholm’s customs services, in particular. The warehouses are unique in Stockholm, since there are no longer any similar warehouses remaining at the harbour of Stockholm. Maybe it would be better to spend money to clean up after the old Nobel factory than to destroy the historic port environment for good ?

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