John Nash was an iconic American academician famed for his great intelligence and groundbreaking works in fields such as Mathematics, Cryptography, and Economics. He was also prominent for his fundamental contributions to the study of partial differential equations, game theory, and differential geometry, which are widely used in diverse fields of knowledge. Nash has many prestigious awards to his name, including the John von Neumann Theory Prize (1978), Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (1994), and Abel Prize (2015). At Princeton University, John was known as “The Phantom of Fine Hall”, his biography titled A Beautiful Mind was published in 1998 while a film with the same name, which revolves around him, was released in 2001 and has four Academy Awards.
John Nash’s Biography
John Nash, whose full name is John Forbes Nash Jr was born on June 13, 1928, in Bluefield, West Virginia, to an electrical engineer father, John Forbes Nash, who worked for the Appalachian Electric Power Company. His mother, Margaret Virginia, was a schoolteacher before she got married to John Nash Sr. The younger Nash had a younger sister, Martha Nash, who was born on 16th November 1930. He attended kindergarten and public school and was exposed to deeper knowledge at a young age from books provided by his parents and grandparents.
Upon graduating from high school, John Nash moved to Carnegie Institute of Technology to major in chemical engineering through a full benefit of the George Westinghouse Scholarship. He would switch to a chemistry major and later to mathematics at the advice of his teacher John Lighton Synge. Nash graduated with both a B.S. and M.S. in mathematics at the age of 19 in 1948 and was immediately awarded a scholarship to Princeton University to further his studies in mathematics.
Although he was accepted at Harvard University also, he was offered the John S. Kennedy fellowship and then convinced by Solomon Lefschetz that Princeton valued him more. Lefschetz was the chairman of the mathematics department at Princeton at the time. It was while Nash was studying at Princeton that he began work on his equilibrium theory, which later became the Nash equilibrium. He also holds a Ph.D. degree which he earned in 1950 with a 28-page dissertation.
Among other things, John Nash was famous for his outstanding achievements which have continued to inspire generations of economists, scientists, and mathematicians. Best described as brilliant and eccentric, the American mathematician was also celebrated for his work in game theory, which earned him the Nobel Prize for Economics in the year 1994.
One of his prominent ideas, The Nash Equilibrium, which has grown to be an important idea in economic analysis, sketches out the ability to analyze situations of conflict and co-operation and come up with predictions about how people will behave. Interestingly, it has also found application in diverse fields such as artificial intelligence, evolutionary biology, and computing. In addition to the Nash Equilibrium, the academician is also known for Nash functions, Hilbert’s nineteenth problem, Nash embedding theorem, and Nash–Moser theorem.
Family – Wife And Son
Nash and Alicia Esther Nash (nee Alicia Lardé Lopez-Harrison) met in 1951 when John became a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and Alica, then, was a student in his advanced calculus class. The pair got married in an Episcopal church in February 1957 and divorced in 1963. They re-married for the second time in the year 2001 until 2015 when the two died in a car accident.
In the earlier course of their marriage, Alicia played influential roles in the restoration of Nash’s mental health after he developed schizophrenia in early 1957. The two eventually divorced in 1963 (as mentioned earlier) because Alicia couldn’t continue dealing with the illness. However, Nash and Lardé Lopez-Harrison got back again in 2001 after the mathematics genius became mentally stable again. They remained together until the day they died.
Their marital relationship produced an offspring named John Charles Martin Nash, who was born on 20th May 1959. After Charles was born, he was not named for one year due to his father’s health challenges and his mother’s decision to involve her husband in the naming. Nash’s son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia like his father but is a graduate of mathematics from Rutgers University. According to sources, his parents also became mental health care advocates after he [John Charles] was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. The brilliant mathematician currently lives in his family home in Princeton, New Jersey.
Apart from Charles, John Nash has another son called John David Stier. His mother is Eleanor Stier, a nurse he met in the year 1952. The two were never married neither was John part of Stier’s life during her pregnancy period because of her social status, which he thought wasn’t befitting. The iconic mathematician is said to have abandoned her after Eleanor told him she was carrying his child. Though David Stier is Nash’s first child, people hardly associate him with the iconic mathematician. In 2002, during the run-up to Oscars, the film A Beautiful Mind, which is based on John’s life was criticized for omitting the story of the mathematician’s relationship with now-deceased Eleanor Stier and her son.
How And When Did He Die?
John Nash passed away on the 23rd day of May 2015 in a vehicle accident that occurred in New Jersey, precisely on the New Jersey Turnpike near Monroe Township. Sadly, the renowned American mathematician didn’t die alone, he passed on alongside his wife while returning home from the airport following a visit to Norway, where the academician was awarded the Abel Prize.
Investigations by State police found the accident took place after the taxicab driver ran into a guardrail after losing control of the vehicle while switching lanes. Nash and his wife were said to have appeared not be wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. The couple was ejected from the car upon impact and confirmed dead on the scene while their taxi driver and a passenger in another car sustained non-life- threatening injuries.
Prior to his death, John lived in West Windsor Township, New Jersey, with his wife. And following his death, his obituaries appeared in popular media and scientific platforms throughout the world. Among them is an article about his life and achievements by The New York Times containing Nash’s quotes that were assembled from media and several other published sources.