Alfred Nobel believed that inherited money led to mental enfeeblement, and wanted to promote the development of science and human intellect. Thus he drew up his will: “I, the undersigned, Alfred Bernhard Nobel, after mature deliberation, hereby declare the following to be my last will and testament with regard to such property as I may leave upon my death… The capital, converted to safe securities by my executors, is to constitute a fund, the interest on which is to be distributed annually as prizes to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. The interest is to be divided into five equal parts and distributed as follows: one part to the person who made the most important discovery or invention in the field of physics; one part to the person who made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who, in the field of literature, produced the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction; and one part to the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses. … It is my express wish that when awarding the prizes, no consideration be given to nationality, but that the prize be awarded to the worthiest person, whether or not they are Scandinavian.”
As for those who will be surprised by the absence of prize for achievements in mathematics, let us tell a rumor to them: they say that a mathematician had once stolen Nobel’s bride, so the queen of science was left without the Nobel crown in revenge. However, justice was partially restored in 1969: the prize in the field of economics was established. Say what you like, but it is more convenient to count money than anything else today.