“A Beautiful Mind” Makes His Return, To The Infinite — Near Monroe Township, New Jersey

I’ll readily admit it. The story of a troubled genius — almost any troubled genius — always captivates me.

John Nash, however, was in a league of his very own, in this regard. He was possessed of a quintessentially opaque but undeniably transcendent mind, for much of his mid-life. This small blue orb will miss his originality of insight, and yes, those demons who haunted him, even in his latter days, in more subtle ways. Here is a fine Bloomberg bit on his passing:

. . . .John Nash, the Princeton University mathematician and Nobel laureate whose towering intellect and descent into paranoid schizophrenia formed the basis of the Academy Award-winning movie “A Beautiful Mind,” has died. He was 86. [Image at right derived from a photo by Peter Badge.]

Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in an auto crash on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday afternoon, New Jersey State Police Sergeant Gregory Williams said Sunday.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics to Nash, John Harsanyi of the University of California-Berkeley and Reinhard Selten of the University of Bonn in Germany for their work in game theory, which seeks to understand how people, governments and companies cooperate and compete. . . .

Nash was honored for his early insights, still widely used in economics, into how rivals shift or maintain strategies and allegiances. The Nash Equilibrium describes the moment when all parties are pursuing their best-case scenario and wouldn’t change course even if a rival does. It has been widely applied to matters including military face-offs, industrial price wars and labor negotiations. . . .

. . .Nash, beginning in his early 30s, battled paranoid schizophrenia. . . the mental disorder derailed his academic career. . . .

After stays in psychiatric hospitals and a period wandering around Europe, he returned to Princeton and “became the Phantom of Fine Hall, a mute figure who scribbled strange equations on blackboards in the mathematics building and searched anxiously for secret messages in numbers. . . .”

In his autobiographical piece for the Nobel Foundation, Nash reported “thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists,” though he said rational thought had a downside, since it “imposes a limit on a person’s concept of his relation to the cosmos. . . .”

Have a great ride now, John Forbes Nash, Jr. — the Infinite is again calling to you — but this time, it is bringing you, and your beloved, home. . .


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