Alfred Nobel was an inventor with 350 patents to his name, who among many other things invented dynamite. Nobel was also a successful businessman and when he died he stated that most of his fortune should be awarded to the most important discoveries in science, outstanding work in literature as well as the best work to promote peace.
The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901 and in 1903 the first woman (Marie Curie) was awarded a Nobel Prize. In 2013 an official Nobel Prize API was created to make it possible to get detailed information about prizes and laureates. To know more about who was awarded those first Nobel Prizes in 1901 just call api.nobelprize.org/v1/prize.json?year=1901, and to know more about the female Nobel Laureates you can instead use api.nobelprize.org/v1/laureate.json?gender=female.
Hans Mehlin, Director of Technology at Nobel Media says, "By making Nobel Prize data accessible, we offer powerful exploration tools which can create new ways to present Nobel Prize content. We are excited to see how developers all around the world will use this access, the possibilities are numerous." All the data in the API is available under Creative Commons Zero license, and there is no need to use any API keys or authentication. If you prefer Linked Data instead of an API all the data in the API is also available in RDF format.
There are 3 methods in the API - Prize, Laureate and Country. With Prize it is possible to filter prizes based on parameters like year and category. There are 6 categories of Nobel Prizes, the 5 that was described in the will of Alfred Nobel, i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace as well as the prize in Economic Sciences created in 1968 in memory of Alfred Nobel.
To list all the Peace Prizes between awarded between 2000 and 2010 the call would be api.nobelprize.org/v1/prize.json?year=2000&yearTo=2010&category=peace for example.
With the Laureate method it is possible to search for Nobel Prize Laureates based on name, where they were born or died, what University or institution they worked at, gender etc. An interesting detail is that there are actually 3 possible genders, the traditional male and female, but also “organisation”. The latter is used when the Peace Prize is awarded to an organisation as a whole (the Red Cross for example) rather than to an individual. There are a lot of interesting uses of the data from this method, for example to list all Nobel Laureates from a certain country or all Nobel Laureates from a certain University. This is data that has previously been unavailable in easy to use machine readable form.
To find all the Nobel Laureates that worked at Stanford University the call would be api.nobelprize.org/v1/laureate.json?affiliation=Stanford%20University.
Countries - Handling Geopolitical Changes
The last method is Country that lists all the countries used in the API. Most of these countries are the standard ones like Germany, USA or Sweden. But since the geopolitical map has changed quite a lot during the last 113 years there are also a lot of countries that do no longer exist in this list. This was one of the challenges in developing the API and was solved by providing both the original name of a country as well as mapping to the current country that occupies that geographical area.
For example “Ottoman Empire (now Turkey)” and “USSR (now Russia)”. It is possible to search for original country in the Laureats method using either the original country name (“USSR”) or the country code of the current country (“RU” for Russia).
The best way to get started with the Nobel Prize API is to play around with it in the API Explorer and read the code examples. To get started with the Linked Data there is a D2R Server set up to make the data easily browsable.
Disclosure: Andreas Krohn and his company Dopter has developed the API for Nobelprize.org.