Famim Ahmed

Researcher, Dismislab
Exaggeration of number of Nobel laureates in group photo
This article is more than 1 year old

Exaggeration of number of Nobel laureates in group photo

Famim Ahmed

Researcher, Dismislab

A black and white photo on Facebook claims that 28 of the 29 people in it are Nobel laureates in sciences. Recently there have been many such posts on social media with this claim. A black-and-white picture attached to the post reads, “This is a group photo of the most ‘intelligent’ people in the history of the world. The photo has Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Neils Bohr among others. 28 of the 29 people in the photo are Nobel Prize winners.”

Dismislab found that the claim was misleading. Not 28, but 17 people in the photo had won the Nobel Prize in sciences.

The photo was shared in 2019 and, later, in June 2022 from an Instagram account named @apni_ki_janen. The claim is also available on the Facebook page of the same name. A post on September 4, 2022 by the “Scientific Discuss” Facebook group with the same claim got more than 60,000 reactions and was shared nearly 4,000 times.

The image is also available on the official Nobel Prize website. Each of the 29 scientists is mentioned by name. 17 of them won the Nobel. It is also said that the photo was taken by Belgian photographer Benjamin Kupri. This photo is actually of scientists participating in the 5th Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons held in 1927.

The photo was posted with the same information on 16 November 2016 on the official Nobel Prize Facebook page. The names of the 17 Nobel laureates are Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Peter Debye, William Lawrence Bragg, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Hendrik Lorentz, Niels Bohr, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Charles Wilson, Owen Richardson.

Those named in this photo but who did not win the Nobel are Paul Langevin, Charles-Eugène Guye, Martin Knudsen, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Émile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Édouard Herzen, Théophile de Donder, JE Verschaffelt, Ralph Fowler, Léon Brillouin, Auguste Piccard.

So, the claim that 28 of the 29 scientists have won the Nobel is misleading. Of the 29 people featured in the photo, 17 won the Nobel Prize.

Also “Raju Raj” founder of “Bangla Cyclone” page posted the same photo in 2019 in “BCS or BANK : OUR GOAL™ [Largest Job group of Bangladesh ]” group and “Education Center” group on Facebook.

The source of the photo shared by “Bangla Cyclone” page in 2022 was a page named “apni ki janen” (do you know?). But the source of the image posted in 2019 and 2020 was another page named “The Earth Bangla”.

Also, in 2021, some Facebook pages and groups sharing Islamic posts used this image for religious discussion. It was originally posted (1, 2, 3) in various groups by a Facebook user named Naveed Ahmed. His post later spread further through a page post called “Alo – alo” (light).

An English version of the same claim was also spotted by Dismislab. A search found the oldest English post of the claim to be from May 2018 on the “9gag” page. A post about this can also be found on Reddit from around the same time.

This post, being shared since 2018, was shared 31 times on Facebook in that one year alone. Since then, 174 public posts containing this claim have been found. Apart from this, posts related to this have been found on Instagram dating back to 2018.

Besides, videos (1, 2, 3) containing this claim were found on YouTube where it spread mainly as “Youtube Shorts” in Hindi.

Public reaction

In light of the fake claim, many wondered who was the one who did not get the Nobel. Some have mentioned it was Nikola Tesla. But the Serbian-American scientist did not participate in this conference, nor is he in the photo. Also, it appears that the post containing this image was, in turn, shared by many people who fell for the claim.