John Nash was 86 and his wife was 82.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. They Were Riding in a Taxi That Crashed When the Driver Lost Control
John and Alicia Nash were riding in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike when the crash occurred, according to NJ.com. The taxi’s driver tried to pass another car and lost control, crashing into a guard rail.
Police said they were both ejected from the car and didn’t appear to be wearing seatbelts.
The taxi driver, Tark Girgis, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, had to be pulled from the wrecked car by firefighters and was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
The crash happened at about 4:30 p.m. and they were pronounced dead at the scene.
A prosecutor told NJ.com that no charges are expected to be filed against the taxi driver.
2. His Wife, Alicia, Cared For Him as He Battled Mental IllnessJohn and Alicia Nash married in 1957. Alicia graduated from M.I.T. and had a degree in physics. Two years after they were married, John Nash began to be overcome by his mental illness. He was hospitalized while Alicia was pregnant with their son, John Charles Martin Nash.
She divorced him in 1963, but he remained living at her house as a boarder. As he gained control of his illness, their relationship restarted and they re-married in 2001.
3. Russell Crowe Played Nash in the 2001 Movie About His LifeRussell Crowe starred as Nash in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. Alicia Nash was played by Jennifer Connelly. Crowe tweeted about Nash’s death:
The movie was based on the book, also titled A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasar.
4. The Nobel Prize & Movie Helped Turn Around His LifeAccording to the New York Times, Nash’s life was turned around by winning the Nobel Prize in 1994 and the movie in 2001.
“It changed him from a homeless unknown person who was wandering around Princeton to a celebrity, and financially, it put him on a much better basis,” Harold Kuhn, a friend of John Nash and a professor at Princeton, told the Times.
5. He Has Been Called One of the Great Mathematicians of the 20th CenturyAccording to the Times, his theory of noncooperative games, which was published in 1950 as the Nash equilibrium, provides a mathematical tool for analyzing competitive situations, such as corporate rivalries or legislative decision making, and is now used in economics and social science, as well as other fields, like evolutionary biology.
Roger Myerson, an economist at the University of Chicago compared the Nash equilibrium “to that of the discovery of the DNA double helix in the biological sciences.”
Most of Nash’s best works were in a small number of papers published before he was 30, and prior to being overcome by mental illness, though he continued to work into his late age.
“Jane Austen wrote six novels, Bach wrote six partitas,” Barry Mazur, a professor of mathematics at Harvard, told the Times. “I think Nash’s pure mathematical contributions are on that level. Very, very few papers he wrote on different subjects, but the ones that had impact had incredible impact.”