John von Neumann

(1903 - 1957)

In 1928, two years after receiving his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Budapest, John von Neumann published “Theory of Parlor Games,” which spawned the field of game theory. He was later called to work on the Manhattan Project in 1943 and witnessed the first explosion of a nuclear weapon, which his mathematical work had helped make possible. While dying of cancer, he recited lines from every page of Goethe’s Faust to entertain his brother, who sat by his bed.

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