Since the news of the tragic death recently of John Nash and his wife in an automobile accident last weekend, some of those who were at Princeton during the same time I was (late 70s, early 80s) have been exchanging emails of their memories of Nash from that time. It turns out that two of them, Mark Schneider and Steven Bottone, had transcribed some of Nash’s blackboard writings in a notebook. Here’s Steve’s account of this:
Back in May 1979, just after our general examination, Mark Schneider and I decided we would write down some of the writings that Nash left on the blackboards around Jadwin. Mark sat in a wheeled desk chair with a steno notebook in hand and I wheeled him from board to board as he transcribed the musings. I believe if we had done this even six months earlier we would have had a lot more interesting samples of Nash’s writings, but I think he was already starting to tail off on his output by May 1979. As far as I know, we were the only Princetonians who thought of compiling any of this. I have made a PDF out of the musings.
Since I suspect quite a few people are curious about these blackboard writings (including me, they mostly had ended by the time I got to Princeton in late 1979), Mark and Steve have allowed me to make the pdf available, see the link above. Mark points out that they didn’t actually see Nash writing these, so his authorship is an assumption. Steve notes that the handwriting was distinctive, and that the general assumption was that Nash was the author.
Update: Princeton has now made available publicly Nash’s graduate school records, see here.
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