The Nobel prize remains the most sought-after of scientific prizes, to many the pinnacle of scientific achievement. But few know the process by which the winner or winners are chosen. Chemistry World goes behind closed doors to find out how the Nobel committee make their selection.

Our guide on this voyage of discovery is Bengt Norden, chair professor of physical chemistry of Chalmers University of Technology. Norden was a member of the Nobel committee for chemistry – the body responsible for recommending potential laureates – from 1995 to 2004, and counts a great number of Nobel laureates amongst his personal friends. 

In this series of videos, Norden walks us through the selection criteria, the nomination process and the investigations they undertake (keep an eye out for Swedes hiding in the bushes outside your lab). He also addresses some of the myths and rumours surrounding the prize and takes us through his favourite examples, as well as some who sadly missed their opportunity.


‘The achievement should somehow open a door, or open our eyes. We will see things in a different way’

Is the Nobel prize awarded for a lifetime of scientific achievement? Norden discusses the critera against which research is judged.