A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind


Sylvia Nasar

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Milnor, a math student at Princeton during John Nash’s year there, is “the most brilliant freshman in the history of the Princeton mathematics department.” He is a “tall, lithe” young man “with a baby face and the body of a gymnast.” Milnor is one of the few students Nash chooses to interact with, believing Milnor to be more gifted than other Princeton mathematicians; indeed, Milnor goes on to become a highly successful mathematician, winning the top three mathematical prizes in the world. In 1952, Milnor and Nash travel across the country to Santa Monica, where both men are working for the summer; Milnor later claimed that Nash made a “sexual overture” toward him, and it is possible that Nash had romantic feelings for Milnor.

John Milnor Quotes in A Beautiful Mind

The A Beautiful Mind quotes below are all either spoken by John Milnor or refer to John Milnor. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of A Beautiful Mind published in 1998.
Chapter 5 Quotes

Nash was always on the lookout for problems. “He was very much aware of unsolved problems,” said Milnor. “He really cross-examined people on what were the important problems. It showed a tremendous amount of ambition.” In this search, as in so much else, Nash displayed an uncommon measure of self-confidence and self-importance. On one occasion, not long after his arrival at Princeton, he went to see Einstein and sketched some ideas he had for amending quantum theory.

Page Number: 69-70
Explanation and Analysis:
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John Milnor Character Timeline in A Beautiful Mind

The timeline below shows where the character John Milnor appears in A Beautiful Mind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 18 – Experiments
Love, Desire, and the Impact of Hidden Lives Theme Icon
...college friend, Ruth Hincks, a journalism student at the University of North Carolina; and John Milnor, a brilliant math student Nash knew at Princeton, where Milnor was an undergraduate student. Hincks... (full context)
Genius, Morality, and Relationships Theme Icon
Martha and Milnor do not connect romantically in Santa Monica, but Nash and Milnor collaborate on a project... (full context)
Chapter 28 – Seattle
Genius, Morality, and Relationships Theme Icon
...expects his embedding theorem to make him a center of attention. Instead, though, one of Milnor’s proofs garners significant attention from the mathematicians, leaving Nash angry and embarrassed. (full context)
Chapter 42 – The “Blowing Up” Problem
Mental Illness, Recovery, and the Quest for Knowledge Theme Icon
Love, Desire, and the Impact of Hidden Lives Theme Icon
Milnor, impressed that Nash seems to be working on “interesting” ideas in algebraic geometry, offers Nash... (full context)