The Slatest

A Beautiful Mind Mathematician John Nash Killed in Car Crash

Professor John Forbes Nash, Jr, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, was conferred an honorary doctorate of science at the City University of Hong Kong on November 8, 2011.  

Photo by aaron tam/AFP/Getty Images

Princeton University mathematician and Nobel Prize winner John Nash was killed when the taxi he was riding in on Saturday crashed into a guard rail on the New Jersey Turnpike. His wife of nearly 60 years, Alicia Nash, was also killed in the crash. John and Alicia Nash were traveling southbound on the Turnpike when their taxi driver lost control as he tried to pass a car that was in the center lane, leading to the crash, reports A law enforcement officer said the Nashes likely weren’t wearing seatbelts because they were both ejected from the car when it crashed. The taxi driver, however, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Nash, who was 86, worked as a senior research mathematician at Princeton University. Alicia Nash was 82. Nash won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994, which “marked not only an intellectual triumph but also a personal one,” notes the Washington Post. It came four decades after he had written a 27-page thesis on game theory that would go on to become one of the most celebrated works in his field. The Post explains what happened next:

Before the academic world could fully recognize his achievement, Dr. Nash descended into a condition eventually diagnosed as schizophrenia. For the better part of 20 years, his once supremely rational mind was beset by delusions and hallucinations.

By the time Dr. Nash emerged from his disturbed state, his ideas had influenced economics, foreign affairs, politics, biology—virtually every sphere of life fueled by competition. But he been absent from professional life for so long that some scholars assumed he was dead.

Although already well-known, Nash became an international celebrity when his life story, including his struggles with paranoid schizophrenia, were portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 2001 film “A Beautiful Mind,” which won four Oscars including Best Picture. “Stunned…my heart goes out to John & Alicia & family. An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts,” Crowe posted on Twitter today.