Published By: Jayati

Youth brilliance: Meeting the world's youngest Nobel laureates

Bagging a Nobel at 17? Yes, you heard it right! 

The Nobel Prize Awards celebrate individuals who've made significant impacts on society. Named after Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, it stands as one of the world's most prestigious accolades. There are exceptionally brilliant individuals who have been honoured with this award at a remarkably early age, making it a monumental achievement in their lives. Discovering just how young these geniuses were and pinpointing the youngest among them adds another fascinating layer to this prestigious recognition. Now, let's embark on uncovering these remarkable stories!

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai made history in 2014 as the youngest Nobel laureate, winning the Nobel Peace Prize at just 17! Her journey began in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where, despite challenges that girls couldn't attend school, she emerged as a passionate education activist from a young age. Nominated by Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize, she started blogging for BBC Urdu about her life at the age of 12. Her story gained global attention when The New York Times produced a documentary, catapulting her activist efforts onto the world stage.

William Lawrence Bragg 

A fervent enthusiast of science and mathematics, William Lawrence Bragg accumulated numerous awards throughout his life. His scientific journey took an unexpected turn when he broke his arm while biking, leading him to be the first recipient of his father's experimental X-ray equipment for surgical use. This marked the pioneering use of such equipment in Australia. 

In World War II, Bragg played a vital role in the military, collaborating with colleagues to create a device that accurately located incoming gunfire. For these efforts, he received the Military Cross Award. In 1915, at the age of 25, Bragg was honoured with the Nobel Physics Prize, further affirming his significant influence in the scientific field.

Tsung-Dao Lee 

Physicist Tsung-Dao Lee, born in China and later naturalised as an American, secured the Nobel Physics Prize in 1957 at the age of 31. Initially starting in chemical engineering, he later switched to physics. Lee, along with Chen Ning Yang, jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics, marking them as the first Chinese laureates. Lee is recognised for his research on Parity Laws, contributions to particle physics, and the formulation of the Lee-Yang Theorem, among other accomplishments.

Frederick G. Banting 

Like many scientists, Frederick Grant Banting also had a dream of making a difference in the medical field. His big accomplishment was discovering insulin, a game-changer for people with diabetes.

He snagged the Nobel Prize at the age of 32, sharing the honour with John Macleod. That makes him the youngest winner in the physiology/medicine category. Besides that, he also bagged the Flavelle Medal in 1931 and the Cameron Prize for Therapeutics from the University of Edinburgh in 1927.

Rudolf Mossbauer 

Originating from Munich, Germany, Rudolf Ludwig Mossbauer commenced his exploration into physics at the Technical University of Munich. It was within these studies that he unveiled the Mossbauer Effect, a groundbreaking revelation that propelled him to clinch the esteemed Nobel Prize at the tender age of 32.

Mossbauer's impactful work gained recognition as Glen Rebka and Robert Pound applied the Mossbauer Effect to validate the shift of gamma rays in Earth's gravitational field. Beyond this, his significant accomplishments were acknowledged with the prestigious Lomonosov Gold Medal, recognising his outstanding contributions to the natural sciences and humanities. 

These brilliant minds made substantial contributions to the betterment of mankind at a remarkably young age, demonstrating their exceptional abilities. Despite their tender years, they managed to significantly impact the world, playing a key role in making it the better place we inhabit today.