Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel, who made a fortune by inventing dynamite,dictated in his will that the interest from an investment fund would be awarded annually to pioneers in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace who “shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” The resulting Nobel Foundation, established in 1900, has since awarded hundreds of prizes, but however great the winners’ accomplishments in the sciences and humanities, the honorees’ accomplishments often seem somewhat esoteric.
To promote a deeper understanding of the Nobel laureates’ work, the foundation has turned its website (www.nobel.se), first established in 1995, into a virtual museum. The Nobel e-Museum contains animated games, interactive science laboratories, audio clips of acceptance speeches and lectures, laureates’ biographies and descriptions of their work.
For example, users can learn how microchips work by playing a game in which they have two minutes to defuse a bomb. Those who have read Lord of the Flies by 1983 literature laureate William Golding can test their knowledge of the novel through an interactive quiz. If genomics is your interest, you can practice protein-sequencing techniques in the e-Museum’s virtual laboratory.
Nils Ringertz, Stockholm-based director of the Nobel e-Museum, says that the museum promotes advancements in the sciences and humanities. “The Nobel e-Museum is an efficient instrument for providing this information to a worldwide audience, and our hope is that we will be able to promote the interest of the general public in science and culture,” he says.