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Dr. John F. Nash, Jr., the Nobel Prize-winning math genius made famous when his life, work, and recovery from mental illness inspired the book as well as Academy Award-winning film, A Beautiful Mind, perished on May 23 in a two-car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86. His wife, Alicia, who was 82, also died in the car crash. The crash was reported at 4:30 p.m. EST and the couple were pronounced dead at the scene at 5:18 p.m. EST, according to police. The couple lived in Princeton Junction, NJ at the time of their death.
According to reports, the couple was traveling southbound in a taxicab near Monroe, NJ when their driver collided with another car and struck a guard rail. New Jersey State Police stated that the couple were not wearing seat belts and ejected from the vehicle upon impact with the guard rail. The taxi driver was flown to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ after being extricated from the vehicle and his injuries were not considered life-threatening. The taxi driver has been identified as 46-year-old Tark Girgis of Elizabeth, NJ. The driver of the other car involved in the accident was treated for neck injuries. No criminal charges had been filed as of Sunday and none are expected to be filed.
John Nash, the Princeton University math genius whose life and work were made famous via the film A Beautiful Mind, perished in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike on May 23, along with his wife, Alicia. The couple’s romance and battle with Nash’s paranoid schizophrenia was documented in the 2001 Academy Award-winning film, which starred Oscar winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator) as John Nash and Jennifer Connelly (Noah), who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Alicia Nash, the famed mathematician’s beloved wife. The movie was directed by Ron Howard (Happy Days) and based in part on the biography written by Sylvia Nasar, who penned the book of the same name about Nash’s backstory.
The brilliant but troubled mathematician shared the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994. In 1995, he joined the Princeton University Mathematics Department as a senior research mathematician. He was known for his work in game theory and applied mathematics. In fact, his study of decision-making in situations of conflict would become one of the most celebrated works in the field and made him a Nobel laureate.
Dr. Nash’s theory of noncooperative games, which was originally published in 1950 and became known as the Nash equilibrium, provided a simple but powerful mathematical tool for analyzing a wide range of competitive situations, from legislative decision-making to corporate rivalries. His approach is now commonplace in mainstream Economics and throughout the social sciences. Moreover, it is also applied in other fields, such as mathematics and evolutionary biology. He also made several contributions to pure mathematics that many consider more significant than his Nobel-winning work on game theory, including solving an intractable problem in differential geometry derived from the work of the 19th century mathematician G. F. B. Riemann.
The couple was returning home from the airport after a trip to Norway, where Dr. Nash and Louis Nirenberg, a fellow mathematician from New York University, had received the Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. One facet of the couple’s life that is not widely known is they divorced in 1963. However, despite the divorce, Alicia continued to stand by the mathematician and their family. The couple eventually remarried in 2001.
Dr. John F. Nash, Jr., the Nobel Prize-winning math genius made famous when his life, work, and recovery from paranoid schizophrenia inspired the book as well as Academy Award-winning film, A Beautiful Mind, perished on May 23 in a car crash, along with his beloved wife, Alicia, on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86. She was 82. The accident was reported at 4:30 p.m. EST and the couple were pronounced dead at the scene at 5:18 p.m. EST, according to police. No criminal charges had been filed as of Sunday and none are expected to be filed. The Nashes are survived by two sons, John David Stier and John Charles Martin Nash, and lived in Princeton Junction, NJ at the time of their death.
By Leigh Haugh
Other Articles by This Author:
Washington Post–John Nash Dies: Nobel Laureate’s Life Inspired ‘A Beautiful Mind’
New York Times–John Nash, Math Genius of ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ Dies at 86
NJ.com–Famed ‘A Beautiful Mind’ Mathematician John Nash, Wife, Killed in N.J. Turnpike Crash