John Forbes Nash Jr., 'A Beautiful Mind' Mathematician, and Wife Killed in Car Crash


John Forbes Nash Jr., the Princeton University researcher whose life was chronicled in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, and his wife Alicia died Saturday in a car crash in New Jersey. He was 86, and his wife, 82. reports that Nash and his wife were traveling in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike when their driver lost control of the vehicle while attempting to pass another car in the center lane, resulting in the two being thrown from the vehicle. Neither were apparently wearing seat belts. The driver was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Nash is known for his revolutionary work in game theory and the mathematics of decision-making, which won him the Nobel Prize in economics in 1994. He is also known for a two-decade battle with schizophrenia so severe that he was forced to leave academics, although Nash eventually was able to emerge the victor by, in his own words, "gradually [beginning] to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation."

A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, received rave reviews from critics like Roger Ebert, who congratulated it for its realistic depiction of mental illness (although others have accused it of being too saccharine). It won four Academy Awards, including best picture, which his biographer Sylvia Nasar wrote left him looking "both pleased and slightly bemused as winner after winner saluted him."

Earlier this year, Nash won the prestigious Abel Prize in mathematics for "striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis."