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article imageJohn Nash, Nobel scientist with a 'Beautiful Mind', dies in crash

By Stephen Morgan     May 24, 2015 in Science
John Nash, the Nobel prize winning mathematician, whose life inspired the best-selling biographical book and Oscar-winning film "A Beautiful Mind," has died in a car accident, together with his wife, on Saturday.
The couple were traveling in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike, when their driver attempted to overtake another car in the center lane. He lost control of the taxi and smashed into the guard rail. At that point, John and Alicia Nash — aged 86 and 84 respectively — were flung from the car and died of their injuries.
The New Jersey journal, NJ.com, quoted State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams, who said that the couple were ejected from the car and that "it doesn't appear that they were wearing seatbelts,"
The other vehicle also crashed into the guard rail, the officer reported. Nash's taxi driver was rescued from the wreckage and taken to hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries. A passenger in the other car was treated for neck pain, said NJ. No charges are expected.
The crash happened at around 4:30 p.m. and the couple were pronounced dead at the scene an hour later.
Nash was a world expert on game theory and received the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994. A mathematical genius, he had also been in Norway only last week to receive the Abel Prize for Mathematics on nonlinear partial differential equations together with for his longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg.
In 1978, he won the John von Neumann Theory Prize and in 1999, the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for a Seminal Contribution to Research.
CNN says that Nash, whose full name was John Forbes Nash Jr, grew up in a coal mining town in West Virginia. He was the son of an engineer and a Latin teacher. After winning the George Westinghouse Award, he got a scholarship to the Carnegie Institute of Technology and after that he was accepted into Princeton University.
The BBC reports that;
"His recommendation letter contained just one line: "This man is a genius."
The New York Times says;
"Dr. Nash was widely regarded as one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century, known for the originality of his thinking and for his fearlessness in wrestling down problems so difficult few others dared tackle them."
After getting his PhD at Princeton, he became a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
Remarkably, many of his ideas were published before he reached the age of 30. His theory of noncooperative games, known as the Nash equilibrium, was published in 1950.
The NYT quotes Harold W. Kuhn, an emeritus professor of mathematics at Princeton and a longtime friend and colleague of Nash’s who said;
“I think honestly that there have been really not that many great ideas in the 20th century in economics and maybe, among the top 10, his equilibrium would be among them.”
His approach to mathematics and game theory influenced many other fields of science. The President of Princeton, Christopher Eisgruber said;
"John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists."
Nash in November 2006 at a game theory conference in Cologne  Germany
Nash in November 2006 at a game theory conference in Cologne, Germany
Wiki
Nash met his wife Alicia at MIT, where she was a student. However, in 1959, he began suffering from psychological problems. This led him to resign from MIT and he began what was to be the first of many years of psychiatric hospitalization.
Suffering from schizophrenic delusions and paranoia, Nash plunged into lost decades of crippling illness, which lasted some 30 years. But, although once divorced from her, his wife, Alicia, stood with him through all the difficult years.
Then, in the 1990's, the work he had done so long before, finally received its recognition when he received the memorial Nobel Prize for Economics.
At the same time, he began to make a remarkable recovery from his mental illness. In a 1996 email to Dr Kuhn, he wrote,
“I emerged from irrational thinking, ultimately, without medicine other than the natural hormonal changes of aging.”
Thereafter, Nash was able to recommence his theoretical work and deliver lectures and speeches.
His astonishing story brought him worldwide fame following the Oscar-winning film made of his life, "A Beautiful Mind"
Following the news of his death, Russell Crowe, who played Nash in the film, tweeted:
More about John Nash, beautiful mind, Scientist, Dies
 
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