In 2001, a film called “A Beautiful Mind” won the academy award for Best Picture. This beautiful and deeply emotional film gave light to what it feels like for one of the world’s most brilliant minds to struggle with schizophrenia while simultaneously making genius breakthroughs in mathematics. It was guaranteed that anyone who saw this film or the Sylvia Nasar’s book of the same name, which the film was based on, would cry, laugh, sigh, and feel their heart constantly expanding, heavy with feeling. It was the undeniable drama of a man’s life that had audiences taking an interest in mathematics, without being forced to as in school, and wanting to learn more about a disease which effects 2.2 million people in the US alone.
Most importantly however, this film was based around the very real life of John Forbes Nash and his wife Alicia Nash. Nash was a brilliant and groundbreaking mathematician who taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. Most notably, John Nash won a Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1994, for his major contribution, known as the Nash equilibrium, which advanced game theory.
As reported by the BBC and NJ.com, around 4.30 p.m. on May 23, 2015, John Nash was killed in a car crash. John and Alicia were travelling back to Princeton, New Jersey after returning from Norway where Nash had received the Abel Prize for Mathematics from King Harald V for work on nonlinear partial differential equations. The couple were passengers in a Ford Crown Victoria taxi traveling southbound in the left lane of the New Jersey Turnpike. The taxi driver tried to overtake a Chrysler in the center lane when he collided in to a guard rail. New Jersey State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams thinks that the couple wasn’t wearing seat belts which is why they were ejected from the car on impact. As such, John and Alicia Nash were pronounced dead at the scene of the car accident. The taxi driver, who was rescued from the car and flown to a nearby hospital, and a passenger in the Chrysler were treated fro non-life-threatening injuries.
Though he was 86 years old, John Nash was still a force to be reckoned with in the world of mathematics, economics, and science. These communities as well as Nash’s Princeton community were shocked by his passing. If Nash could teach us all a lesson at this moment, it would be, to wear a seat belt.
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