Part One: A Beautiful Mind
Part Three: A Slow Fire Burning
Part Four: The Lost Years
Part Five: The Most Worthy
Where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.
-- WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
John Forbes Nash, Jr. -- mathematical genius, inventor of a theory of
rational behavior, visionary of the thinking machine -- had been sitting with
his visitor, also a mathematician, for nearly half an hour. It was late on a
weekday afternoon in the spring of 1959, and, though it was only May,
uncomfortably warm. Nash was slumped in an armchair in one corner of the
hospital lounge, carelessly dressed in a nylon shirt that hung limply over his
unbelted trousers. His powerful frame was slack as a rag doll's, his finely
molded features expressionless. He had been staring dully at a spot immediately
in front of the left foot of Harvard professor George Mackey, hardly moving
except to brush his long dark hair away from his forehead in a fitful,
repetitive motion. His visitor sat upright, oppressed by the silence, acutely
conscious that the doors to the room were locked. Mackey finally could contain
himself no longer. His voice was slightly querulous, but he strained to be
gentle. "How could you," began Mackey, "how could you, a
mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical proof...how could you believe
that extraterrestrials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you
are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world? How could
Copyright © 1998 by Sylvia Nasar.
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