Sweden in winter – that is coldness and darkness in the eyes. While the latter is guaranteed, low temperatures have only stopped by for a few days in late October and moved on to the far north. They have been above zero centigrade ever since despite German media claiming that people in the queue for the new Nintendo Vii console waited in sub-zero temperatures. I was not among them anyway – I would not even spend money on a game console.

My actual point is that Alfred Nobel died in San Remo, Italy, on 10th December 1896, most likely in much nicer weather than here in Scandinavia. Ironically this very special birth date has brought Stockholm on of the highlights of the year: The Nobel Prizes. Along with the Swedish holiday of Lucia it makes the first half of December very special in this city.

The laureates, accompanied by their family, arrive a few days before the actual festivities which marks the beginning of a whole Nobel week. While the Prize itself has only three major events, the laureates are invited to a large number of other events, e.g. visits to schools.

The first official event are the Nobel lectures. By the statutes of the Nobel foundation, every laureate is required to give such a lecture. If they cannot attend personally, they have to do it through video or in writing. While the lecture of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate takes place during the awarding ceremony, all other laureates hold theirs two days in advance. The lectures for Physics, Chemistry and the Economy Prize take place at the Aula Magna of Stockholm University, the Medicine lecture at the Karolinska Institute and the Literature lecture at the Swedish Academy. Most of them are scientific lectures with certain acknowledgments of their colleagues and their families.

The Peace and Literature lectures are often more like speeches about political topics.

So far I have only visited the lectures at the Aula Magna. This has practical reasons – the Medicine lectures are on the same day, but some kilometers away, and the Literature lecture may be the one which attracts the public attention, but requires that the visitors get a ticket in advance.
The Aula Magna however is near to my place and antrance is free.

The stage for this year’s Physics Prize lecture

During the lecture the taking photos is not allowed. This was the audience on Friday.

And the audience in 2005 – it seemed to be considerably smaller

The same stage in 2005

Enough for today – I can already say here that I don’t have photos from the awarding ceremony, simply because it is limited to a small number of honorary guests. However, I have pictures of last year’s Nobel banquet which I was able to attend. But more about that tomorrow.