By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr., whose contributions to “game theory” earned him a Nobel Prize and inspired the movie A Beautiful Mind, recently lost his life in a taxi accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. He and his wife of nearly 60 years passed away following the tragic crash, but their inspiring story lives on.
The Princeton University researcher was 86 years old, and he suffered throughout much of his life from schizophrenia, a complex mental illness characterized by abnormal social behavior and difficulty interpreting reality.
His brilliance and struggles with schizophrenia inspired the book A Beautiful Mind, which later became a movie. Russell Crowe’s performance as Nash earned him an Academy Award nomination, and the movie went on to win four Oscars, including Best Picture.
In 1994, Nash won the prestigious Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for his theories on strategic decision-making in competitive settings. His work has greatly influenced a broad range of fields, including artificial intelligence, evolutionary biology, politics, and military theory.
Nash eventually overcame schizophrenia with the help of his wife, Alicia, after decades of feeling paranoid about a government conspiracy. For example, Nash believed all men who wore red ties were secretly communists. In the movie version of A Beautiful Mind, this paranoia was depicted as hallucinations of government agents and a communist conspiracy involving Soviet Russia.
Featured image courtesy of Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications at Princeton University. Black and white photo of Nash courtesy of Jimmy Wales and Peter Badge on Wikimedia. Image of “A Beautiful Mind” movie poster courtesy of Universal.