'Beautiful Mind' Mathematician Perishes in Car Accident

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U.S. mathematician and Nobel Laureate John Nash, 83, stands on the podium as he receives an Honorary Doctor of Science at the City University of Hong Kong November 8, 2011. Bobby Yip/Reuters

John Nash, the bright, eccentric mathematician whose life and work were immortalized in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, died in a car accident, along with his wife Alicia, on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday afternoon. He was 86 years old and his wife was 82.

The Nobel Prize-winning academic was traveling alongside his wife in a taxi, reports the New York Daily News. The driver of the taxi lost control and hit a guardrail near Monroe Township. The car it was attempting to pass, a Chrysler, hit the taxicab, a Ford Crown Victoria.

The cab driver survived, although he had to be extracted from the wreckage, and was taken to a hospital in neighboring New Brunswick. The driver of the Chrysler was taken to a hospital in Princeton for treatment of injuries.

The Nashes were ejected from the car and died shortly after the crash, according to the paper. It's unclear whether the two were wearing their respective seatbelts; authorities are investigating the accident. No criminal charges have been filed, according to The New York Times.

A Beautiful Mind, which landed several Academy Awards in 2002, featured Russell Crowe playing Nash during his Princeton University years, during which he did landmark work involving game theory that would eventually land him acclaim, as well as the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

The film also details how he met his Alicia, who helped him combat the schizophrenia that would cause him to leave conversations mid-way through, and to wander through campus writing complicated mathematical formulas on chalkboards, reports PBS.

While the Nashes divorced in 1963, Alicia was John's rock. He bounced back from his schizophrenia in the late 1970s and returned to teaching in the 1980s, eventually making amends with Alicia. They remarried in 2001. "I emerged from irrational thinking, ultimately, without medicine other than the natural hormonal changes of aging," he wrote in an email to a friend and fellow professor about grappling with the mental disorder.

In the following years, the couple became outspoken advocates for de-stigmatizing mental illnesses, particularly when their son, John, was also diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to NJ.com. In March, Nash was awarded the Abel Prize, one of the most distinguished awards for mathematicians, honoring his lesser-known achievements in partial differential equations and geometry.

'Beautiful Mind' Mathematician Perishes in Car Accident | Culture