June 13, 1928: Nobel Prize Winner Nash Born in Bluefield

Jun 13, 2018

Credit WV Humanitites Council / e-WV

Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash Jr. was born in Bluefield on June 13, 1928. The math prodigy excelled at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) and Princeton University.

One of his mentors was professor John von Neumann, who helped develop the computer and the hydrogen bomb. Nash focused his studies on game theory, which examines rivalries in the context of theoretical math. His 1950 doctoral thesis transformed the field of economics by applying game theory to business competition.

Nash became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but his career was interrupted by sudden illness. In 1959, he was hospitalized for schizophrenia. He isolated himself for more than 20 years, giving up teaching and math altogether.

In the 1980s, Nash’s schizophrenia faded away as quickly as it had come on. In 1994, Nash was honored with the Nobel Prize in Economics and, in 1998, was the subject of a best-selling biography, A Beautiful Mind, which was later made into an Oscar-winning movie.

In 2015, John Nash and his wife, Alicia, were killed in an automobile accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86.