When people hear the name "John Nash," many recall the movie A Beautiful Mind, in which actor Russell Crowe portrays the mathematical genius whose game-theory research as a graduate student at Princeton University earned him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994.
Renowned mathematician Dr. John Nash wrote a series of letters to NSA in the 1950s proposing a new encryption-decryption machine. Copies of his letters are on display at the National Cryptologic Museum. (NSA photo.)
The National Cryptologic Museum's newest exhibit, "An Inquisitive Mind: John Nash Letters," features copies of correspondence between Dr. Nash and the National Security Agency (NSA) from the 1950s when he was developing his ideas on an encryption-decryption machine.
At the height of his career in mathematics, Dr. Nash wrote a series of letters to NSA, proposing ideas for such a machine. While the agency acknowledged his ideas, they were never adopted. The letters were preserved with NSA's analysis in a collection of unsolicited correspondence received in 1955.
The unclassified letters and the agency's analysis, portions of which were classified, remained protected in NSA's records center until 2011, when the entire collection was reviewed and declassified. The entire collection is being formally accessioned to the National Archives and Records Administration and will be available for public viewing later this year.
Copies of Nash's letters to NSA are on display at the National Cryptologic Museum with complete copies available for review in the museum's library and on the museum's web page. The Nash letters were also recently featured on the National Geographic Channel's (NGC), "Inside the NSA" program. For more information on the program, please visit the NGC web site: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/.
The National Cryptologic Museum is located at the intersection of Maryland Route 32 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (I-295), adjacent to the headquarters of NSA. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (except federal holidays), and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month.
For more information on this press release, call the NSA Public Affairs Office at 301-688-6524. For information on museum tours, educational programs, and hours and days of operation, click on the National Cryptologic Museum tab at NSA.gov. Admission and parking at the museum are free.