Adventures in Digital History

The Lost Years of a Nobel Laureate

As it comes close for our digitally enhanced projects to be due, I find myself digging up obscure sources as I plan out my video. Information on John Nash is hard to come by unless it’s in video format, or from the pen of his biographer, one Sylvia Nasar. And that’s exactly what I have here! An article written by Sylvia Nasar.

In 1994, not long after Nash won the Nobel Prize, Nasar published an article in the New York Times that, as her titled suggests, covers the lost years of Nash’s life. It may seem an odd turn of phrase, but there were many people in the academic community who thought Nash had died sometime in the 1960s. Nash pretty much stayed out of the public eye due to his multiple hospitalizations. After 1970, the only place he really made any appearances was on the Princeton University campus. Even there he was considered something like a ghost or phantom. They called him the “Phantom of Fine Hall” since he was always stalking the halls and writing obscure mathematics on the blackboards.

As of 1994, Nash was a fascinating figure. A brilliant mathematician, a veritable genius and mad man, seemingly back form the dead. Nasar was also busy writing Nash’s biographer around this time, which would go on to be published two years later, however this is an excellent source since there is very little information on Nash’s life after he was hospitalized. I hope to incorporate some of this information into my video, since I am in the process of finishing it up and need information like this to discuss Nash’s life before the Nobel Prize, but after his first hospitalization in McLean.

Nasar, Sylvia. “The Lost Years of a Nobel Laureate.” New York Times Archive, November 13, 1994.

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