John F. Nash, Jr. and his wife Alicia killed in car accident

John F. Nash, Jr., who together with Louis Nirenberg received the Abel Prize on Tuesday 19 May, was killed in a taxi accident on the New Jersey Turnpike on Saturday afternoon local time. Nash (86) and his wife Alicia (82) were on their way home after a week of Abel celebrations in Oslo and Bergen when they were both killed in the car crash.

John F. Nash Jr. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB ScanpixJohn F. Nash Jr. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

Nash had been in Norway on Tuesday to receive the Abel Prize for Mathematics from King Harald V for his work, along with longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg, for their work on nonlinear partial differential equations.

Reached at his home Sunday, Louis Nirenberg, who had known Nash since the 1950s, called him a "wonderful mathematician." After flying back with the couple back from Norway, he said they got into a taxi at the airport for the ride back home together.

A brilliant mathematician 

John Nash jr. received the Abel Prize from H.M. King Harald V. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB ScanpixJohn Nash jr. received the Abel Prize from H.M. King Harald V. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

Nash joined the Princeton mathematics department as a senior research mathematician in 1995. Until his death Nash was a regular presence on campus. On March 25, colleagues feted him at a reception after the announcement of his Abel Prize award.

The University community is "stunned and saddened" upon hearing news reports that Princeton mathematician John Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in a traffic accident, President Christopher L. Eisgruber said Sunday.

"We are stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia," Eisgruber said. "Both of them were very special members of the Princeton University community.

"John's remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists who were influenced by his brilliant, groundbreaking work in game theory, and the story of his life with Alicia moved millions of readers and moviegoers who marveled at their courage in the face of daunting challenges. Nash's life story was told in the movie "A Beautiful Mind". The film is in part based on Sylvia Nasar's biography with the same title.

Abel, Munch and chess

John F. Nash, Jr. and his wife Alicia had a special wish. They wanted to visit the Munch Museum that currently is showing an exhibition with works of Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh. The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Kirsti Strøm Bull, accompanied them. She says that they were both very enthusiastic about the exhibition. Earlier in the week they met with Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess grandmaster, No. 1 ranked player in the world.

Royal honour and young enthusiasm

John F. Nash, Jr. and Louis Nirenberg were received in audience at the Royal Palace the Abel Prize award ceremony in the University Aula in Oslo. Following the award ceremony the two Abel Laureates were interviewed in front of a live audience by the British science journalist Vivienne Parry. In the evening the Norwegian government hosted a banquet with the King present at Akershus castle.  The following day the Abel lectures were held at the University of Oslo.

Abel Lectures at Bergen Science Centre. John and Alicia Nash in the front row. Photo: Anne-Marie AstadAbel Lectures at Bergen Science Centre. John and Alicia Nash in the front row. Photo: Anne-Marie Astad

The last stop on their stay in Norway was Bergen. Here John F. Nash, Jr. met with enthusiastic schoolchildren at a math circus. Later the same day Nash and Nirenberg gave lectures for students at a science center. The University of Bergen was the host for the Abel events.


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Telephone: + 47 22 84 15 00
Fax: + 47 22 12 10 99
Web editor: Anne-Marie Astad
Design and technical solutions: Ravn Webveveriet AS