‘A Beautiful Mind’ mathematician John Nash dies in taxi crash


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‘A Beautiful Mind’ mathematician John Nash dies in taxi crash
Police say Nash and his wife, Alicia, died in a taxi crash in New Jersey on Saturday, May 23

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The American mathematician whose life was the subject of the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind died in a taxi crash, the BBC and ABC News reported. 

Princeton University mathematician and Nobel Prize winner John Nash Jr was in a taxi with his wife, Alicia, in New Jersey on Saturday, May 23, when the driver lost control and crashed into a guard rail, ABC News quoted New Jersey State Police Sergeant Gregory Williams as saying. 

“The taxi passengers were ejected,” Williams also told Agence France-Presse, adding that the taxi driver was airlifted to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Nash was 86 while his wife was 82. They lived in Princeton, New Jersey. 

Williams added that authorities do not believe the couple was wearing seat belts since they were both ejected from the taxi. The incident is still under investigation. 

Williams said the deadly accident occurred at 4:30 pm (2030 GMT) on the New Jersey Turnpike near the township of Monroe.

Nash, from Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is best known for his contribution to game theory – the mathematics of decision-making – which won him the Nobel economics prize in 1994.

His life story formed the basis of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind in which his genius and struggle with mental illness was portrayed by Russell Crowe.

Crowe paid Nash tribute on Twitter. 

Struggle with delusions

Nash’s life story took a twist in early 1959 when he began suffering from “mental disturbances” that caused him to resign his faculty position at MIT.

Eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, Nash faced a lifelong struggle with delusions, which affected his career and marriage to Alicia, whom he wed in 1957.

The couple would divorce in the early 1960s, but remained in contact and remarried decades later in 2001. By the time Nash received his Nobel Prize, his delusions had decreased.

“I am still making the effort and it is conceivable that with the gap period of about 25 years of partially deluded thinking providing a sort of vacation, my situation may be atypical,” Nash wrote in an autobiographical description, published at the time of his Nobel Prize award in 1994.

“It did happen that when I had been long enough hospitalized that I would finally renounce my delusional hypothesis and revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances and return to mathematical research,” he said.

Earlier this May, Nash and mathematician Louis Nirenberg received Norway’s prestigious Abel Prize for their contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs) and its applications to geometric analysis.

Nash’s ‘achievements inspired generations’ 

“John’s remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory,” Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said on Twitter.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis tweeted of Nash that “reading your work was inspirational.”

“Meeting you, and spending time together, was an unearned bonus. Farewell John Nash Jr,” he said.

Nash was born in Bluefield, West Virginia on June 13, 1928 to John, an electrical engineer, and his wife, Virginia, a former school teacher.

He went on to study mathematics at what is now Carnegie Mellon University and received a graduate degree from Princeton, where he said he first became interested in game theory. – with reports form Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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