John Forbes Nash Jr, a mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind,” has died along with his wife in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86.
Nash and Alicia Nash, 82, of Princeton Township, were killed in a taxi crash yesterday, state police said. A colleague who had received an award with Nash in Norway earlier in the week said they had just flown home and the couple had taken a cab home from the airport.
Russell Crowe, who portrayed Nash in “A Beautiful Mind,” tweeted that he was “stunned.”
“An amazing partnership,” he wrote. “Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.”
Known as brilliant and eccentric, Nash was associated with Princeton University for many years, most recently serving as a senior research mathematician.
He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1994 for his work in game theory, which offered insight into the dynamics of human rivalry. It is considered one of the most influential ideas of the 20th century.
Just a few days ago, Nash had received a prize from the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters in Oslo with New York University mathematician Louis Nirenberg, who said he’d chatted with the couple for an hour at the airport in Newark before they’d gotten a cab.
Nirenberg said Nash was a truly great mathematician and “a kind of genius.”
Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said the Nashes were special members of the university community.
“John’s remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory, and the story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges,” Eisgruber said in a statement.
New Jersey State Police say the Nashes were both ejected from the cab in the crash around 4:30 pm yesterday in Monroe Township, about 124 kilometers northeast of Trenton. The cab driver was hospitalised.
News of the deaths was shocking to Nirenberg.
“We were all so happy together,” Nirenberg said. “It seemed like a dream.”
John David Stier, Nash’s son with his first wife, said he learned of the death this morning. “It’s very upsetting,” he said.
In an autobiography written for The Nobel Foundation website, Nash said delusions caused him to resign as a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.