President and Mrs Obama travel to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize

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On October 9th of this year, President Obama was awoken by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs with the news that he had become the first sitting US president to have won a Nobel Prize. The 2009 Nobel Committee awarded Mr Obama the Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

The deadline for this year's nominations was February 1, a mere 12 days after Mr Obama took office. According to the Nobel Committee, 205 names were submitted for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, 33 of which were organizations. This is the highest number of nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize ever. The names of the other nominees cannot be revealed for 50 years.

The president and First Lady will depart Andrews Air Force Base tonight for Oslo, Norway where he will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday.

Mr Obama was originally scheduled to make a stop in Copenhagen, Denmark, en route to Norway, to attend the international climate change conference being held Dec 7-18. But on Friday the White House issued a paper statement announcing a change of plans, "Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the President believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th rather than on December 9th."

The president's visit to Norway will be his 9th foreign trip this year. Now with the Copenhagen stop added as a separate trip in and of itself, that means Mr Obama will have traveled overseas 10 times in his first year since taking office.

Before receiving the Nobel, the president will meet with the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg after which Mr Obama and First Lady will then meet with King Harald V and Queen Sonja. Later, the Obamas will participate in the Nobel Prize ceremony where the president will deliver remarks. According to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Mr Obama will mention the war in Afghanistan and his decision to send in more troops.

"We'll address directly the notion that many have wondered, which is the juxtaposition of the timing for the Nobel Peace Prize and -- and his commitment to add more troops around -- into Afghanistan," Gibbs said at Monday's White House briefing.

Mr Obama will be joined by the 12 other Nobel Laureates. They will receive awards in 6 categories including:

for physics - Charles K Kao; Willard S Boyle and George E Smith;

for chemistry - Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A Steitz and Ada E Yonath;

for physiology or medicine - Elizabeth H Blackburn, Carol W Greider and Jack W Szostak

for literature - Herta Muller;

for peace - Barack H Obama

for economics: Elinor Ostrom; Oliver E. Williamson

The first Nobel Prize award ceremony was held December 10, 1901. Since then, the Nobel Prize, named after founder Alfred Nobel, has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. In 1968, economics was added - The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences.

Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award. According to the White House, the $1.4 million is being donated to charity. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, a "series of charities" were still being looked at but no decisions had been made as to which will be the recipients.

President Obama is the first sitting US President to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace prize. President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to ever receive a Nobel prize, in any category, when he received the Peace award in 1906 for his role in the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905 (ending the Russo and Japanese war).  President Jimmy Carter received the Peace award in 2002 "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." Vice President Al Gore received the Peace prize in 2007 as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

Some other random but interesting Nobel facts: Joseph Stalin, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922-1953), was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 and 1948 for his efforts to end World War II. Mahatma Gandhi was never awarded the Nobel Prize. The strongest symbol of non-violence in the 20th century never received the Nobel Peace Prize despite several nominations (12 nominations between 1937 and 1948).

Thursday evening, the President and Mrs Obama will watch the Nobel parade, and attend the Nobel banquet dinner with the King and Queen. The Obamas return to Washington Friday afternoon.