Friday, April 4, 2008

Some Relative Information

Here is some of the research I have done for Assignment 3.1 so far...

* Beautiful Mind's Math Guru Makes Truth = Beauty
* Author(s): Dana Mackenzie
* Source: Science, New Series, Vol. 295, No. 5556 (Feb. 1, 2002), pp. 789-791
* Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
* Stable URL:

This summary has two areas of interest. One is that it notes John Nash Jr.’s consumption with his work, which leads to his mental breakdown, and the other is the role that Dave Bayer, a mathematician, played in the making of the movie.

In A Beautiful Mind, John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) teaches his class that his entire course will solve a problem that “will take some of them their entire natural lives.” The intensity with which Nash devotes himself to a subject to the exclusion of everything else is important because it isolates him from the rest of society and starts him on the path of the breakdown. The article mentions that in the movie, he suffers through at least three decades of the mental illness.

Significantly, the article says that mathematics may “reflect Nash’s descent into mental illness and his slow emergence.” For example, Nash is working on the Riemann Hypothesis until he has a mental breakdown. He continues to work on it as he recovers. Thus, mathematics is both a reflection of his mental illness, and it helps him cope with it as well.

The also article discusses how mathematics is represented in the film. Dave Bayer, an algebraic geometer at Barnard College in New York City, consulted on the film and selected the mathematics problem shown at the beginning of the film; he wrote down math problems and his mathematical ideas on the board, which Nash’s character in the movie also did. This visual representation allows us to see and grasp the extent of Nash’s consumption with his work that led to his mental breakdown.

No comments: