A Beautiful Mind And A Senseless Waste: John and Alicia Nash Killed In Taxi Accident in New Jersey

A_Beautiful_Mind_(book)Famed mathematician John Nash, 86, and his wife Alicia, 82, were killed in a tragic accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. The world has lost one of its most brilliant minds in John Nash, though not one of its most inspiring stories in the life of this couple.

The couple was in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike at 4:30 p.m. Saturday when they died after a driver of the Ford Crown Victoria tried to pass a Chrysler and lost control for unknown reasons and struck the guardrail. The Chrysler then hit the taxi and the Nash couple were thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. The couple does not appear to have been wearing their seatbelts.

250px-John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr._by_Peter_BadgeA_Beautiful_Mind_PosterNash was of course one of the great names in game theory and shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Alicia was inspiring in her own right for her lifelong struggle to held Nash deal with his schizophrenia that was portrayed in the book and movie, A Beautiful Mind. The stress of the relationship led Alicia to divorce Nash in 1963 but in 1970 she took him back at the very height of his illness. He would wander Princeton writing long equations and formulas on blackboards. However, by the 1980s, they were able to get the illness under control. In 2001, they reconciled again as a couple.

On Tuesday, the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters awarded the Abel Prize for 2015 to Nash and Louis Nirenberg “for striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis.”

There is a terrific article on Nash and his work in the New York Times here.


21 thoughts on “A Beautiful Mind And A Senseless Waste: John and Alicia Nash Killed In Taxi Accident in New Jersey”

  1. Why isn’t Ernest F. Jackson serving time for crimes against children ? Isn’t he classified as a predatory sexual deviant?

  2. Ernest F. Jackson SUSPENDED Principal of the Chester, New York School District where 5 lawsuits were filed against him for sexual harassent and SUSPENDED for trespassing for entering the home of two handsome brothers who had been called off sick by their mother. The lawsuits were settled in New York City Supreme Court. Jackson sued the Chester School District and lost.Then walked out of the Chester School District without giving notice took a job at St. Michael’s in Netcong New Jersey for a quick minute. Took a job as high school Principal in Shikellammy High School in Sunbury Pennsylvania and just been FIRED for Immorality and Perjury and several other very serious offenses view at YOUTUBE.Ernest Jackson was also investigated for STATUTORY RAPE of his 14 year old foster girl who he was paid room and board for by Pennsylvania Social Services according to rogue and perjuror Pennsylvania Trooper Mark Pizzuti who also stated in his report that the abortions the foster girl Ashley Maugerite Jackson were procured by Ernest Jackson to cover up for the alleged RAPES.Jackson also worked during his Army career at Penn State during Jerry Sandusky serial child rapist who raped children publicly and many were aware of his deviant and criminal behaviors victimizes innocent children. Both Jackson and Sandusky have no biological children of their own and Jackson using the same playbook as Sandusky is now suing the Shikellammy School District. Truth is stranger then fiction.

  3. so sad you caved to the new format. Hope you are there for me when free speech matters. At least you don’t do dicquissssssss.

  4. Nick, Thanks for reminding me about the federal requirement for seat belts in all vehicles except buses. I’ve often thought buses should have them as well, most especially school buses. I was unaware of the primary and secondary enforcement of seat belt usage. It is a shame they died as a result of not buckling up.

    Alan Tyger, With respect to your statement that they “chose to disobey the law,” you don’t know that. At ages 85 and 82 they may have been merely forgetful or distracted as opposed to making a choice.

    And, no, I’m not suggesting that seniors at any particular age are necessarily forgetful. What I am suggesting is that in this case it may not be a valid assumption that there was intention in their not using seat belts. Not everything good or bad, legal or illegal, that people do is done with intention or out of specific choice.

  5. @Paul: Given certain axioms, it’s a self-evident proposition. If we are, say, self-governing and/or a constitutional republic, we are governed by law, not economics theories (and thus necessarily economics theoreticians). We define our money (the dollar) by law, or at least used to. We even established the federal reserve by law. Economics wonks can have their theories about money – indeed they do – but if those theories trump what the law says about money, we have to that extent abdicated our responsibility to govern ourselves.

    I mean, I could go on and on. But not today. Thanks for the comment.

    1. JMRJ – without economics, there would be no United States. Economics is not just about money, however without money there would be no lawyers and thus no laws. 🙂

  6. Regarding the requirement for occupants of a vehicle to use a seatbelt. All states have laws that require a person to wear a seatbelt. The only difference is whether the state has primary or secondary enforcement. In states that have primary enforcement, a cop can pull you over and ticket you if he observes you not wearing a seatbelt. If it is a secondary enforcement state, a cop cannot pull you over and ticket you solely for not being buckled. The cop must observe another violation and then ticket you as well for violating the seatbelt law. As I expected before checking, both NJ and NY have primary enforcement.

  7. In 1968, a Federal regulation was created mandating all vehicles, except buses, driven in the US, have seatbelts.

  8. Before we blame the victims for “choosing not to wear their seat belts,” my questions are: (1) Did this taxi have seatbelts to wear? (2) Do all taxis have seatbelts? (3) Are seatbelts required by law in New Jersey, or New York, or wherever the taxi was registered and/or hailed from?

  9. JMRJ, people are at the heart of economics, and everything else in the human society. Laws simply try to put some order and control into the behavior of people, usually for the benefit of some at the expense of others. Whether those who write and enforce the laws are intent on creating or destroying is the relevant issue.

  10. PaulS, Nice comment about Ann Meara. She and her husband were up there w/ Burns and Allen, Lucie and Ricky. My old man loved the Ed Sullivan Show. The entire family would watch every Sunday Night. That’s where I first saw Stiller and Meara.

  11. I would like to take the rare opportunity to echo what alan tiger said about seatbelts. It’s odd, I always buckle up the first thing when driving a car or being a passenger in a family/friends car. I have not put my head around why I sometimes do not buckle up when I get into a cab. It’s not instinctive, I have to remind myself to buckle. Here’s the kicker, we use Uber and Lyft and I do instinctively buckle up when getting into those privately owned vehicles.

    Having investigated certainly over a thousand personal injury accidents, I can’t count how many involved people not buckled. Many were accidents where the people buckled had just a few bumps and bruises, but the unbuckled seriously injured or killed. I would like to add Derrick Thomas, the great KC Chief linebacker, to the list of famous people killed while not using a seat belt. His accident was the type he would have just walked away from if he were buckled. I see the scofflaws being mostly older people, who did not train their brain to buckle as a child. Ralph Nader has saved countless lives by helping to get seatbelts mandated. I’m old enough to remember cars sans seatbelts.That said, the original seatbelts he pushed to have installed were lap belts. For people, particularly youngsters, those can be worse than having no belt. They can act as weapon that severs your spine when you buckle over from a crash.

  12. I have quite a different take on the Nash equilibrium applied to economics. Wrote about it here in 2010 (can that be 5 years ago, now? Ugh.):


    On a personal level Nash was, by all accounts, a terribly afflicted and terribly nice man. I don’t blame him for the misuse of his game theory speculations in economics at all. He remained a mathematician, not an economist.

    But at the same time, I can’t shy away from concluding that far from constituting a “contribution”, the Nash equilibrium applied to economics is one of the most pernicious and socially destructive ideas in history, not least because it has led our rulers to believe that mathematics lies at the heart of economics, whereas in reality the law does. Or as I so often put it, law trumps economics, not the other way around.

    1. JMRJ – you ask much but answer little. In both your own blog and on this blog you ask questions that you do not answer. At no time to you prove that “law trumps economics.”

  13. like bob simon of cbs, and like tracy morgan’s pal james mcnair, and like so many thousands of others, mr. and mrs. nash made the deliberate choice to disobey the law, and refused to wear available seat belts.
    seat belts save lives.

    1. Actress Anne Meara, the Emmy- and Tony-nominated mother of actor-director Ben Stiller, has died at age 85. Meara and her husband, Jerry Stiller, “were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long,” the family said in a statement. In the 1960s and ’70s, they appeared as the comedy team Stiller & Meara on The Ed Sullivan Show 36 times. Meara appeared in numerous films and television shows — including a recurring role on The King of Queens sitcom.

  14. Thanks for posting this. The NYT piece is very well done and worth the read. We are the poorer for losing this beautiful mind.

  15. Thank you for posting this information and for the inspiring reminder that the human spirit may even overcome schizophrenia.

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