Monday, May 21, 2018

A beautiful mind

Last Friday, I monitored an honors psych class at a local high school. The assignment for the day was to watch “A beautiful mind”, the award winning 2001 film. It’s a great film, which is why it earned 4 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress).

At the end of class, I did a little research on John Nash, and discovered that this week (on May 23) is the 3rd anniversary of his death in a car crash. Ironically, he and his wife were returning from Norway, where he had just been awarded the Abel Prize (which is modeled after the Nobel Prize) which is given to outstanding mathematicians. The taxi driver lost control of his vehicle on the New Jersey turnpike, and both he and his wife were thrown from the car and killed. He was 86 years old.

As his bio explains, he made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations. The four theories that he is known for are listed below:

Researchers have discovered that people with high IQs have a lower risk of schizophrenia, but Nash (and his son) were exceptions to the rule, since both of them developed schizophrenia.

Unless you are a scientist, the terms shown above won’t make a lot of sense to you, but the link below does a better job of explain both game theory and the Nash equilibrium:

Because of John Nash, game theory now has wide-ranging applications to everything from business, law and finance to agriculture, war and, most important for Nash, economics.

John Nash isn’t the smartest person who ever lived, but if you scroll through the list below, you will discover that he is number 180 on the list, with an IQ (coincidentally) of 180. Albert Einstein is number 3 on the list with an IQ of 215.

I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time reading the entire list, since there are 633 people on it, but you may find the following people to be of interest (their place on the list is next to their name):

Leonardo DaVinci – 7
Galileo – 12
Shakespeare – 43
Thomas Edison – 54
Pavlov – 146

Mark Twain – 361
Steve Jobs – 437
FDT – 529
JFK – 532
Muhammad Ali (“I am the greatest”) – 541
Walt Disney – 618
Martin Luther King – 620

Being highly intelligent does not guarantee that you will be a success in life, nor does having a low IQ condemn you to a life of failure (Forrest Gump had an IQ of 75).

None of us is as smart as John Nash, or even most of the people on the list. However, if we simply try to do our best at whatever we do, we too will be a success in life.

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