Privatdozent Photo Edition #2
John von Neumann with Dwight D. Eisenhower (1956)
Prodigy John von Neumann (1903-57) presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 16th 1956. His citation read:
Dr. von Neumann, in a series of scientific study projects of major national significance, has materially increased the scientific progress of this country in the armaments field. Through his work on various highly classified missions performed outside the continental limits of the United States in conjunction with critically important international programs, Dr. von Neumann has resolved some of the most difficult technical problems of national defence.
von Neumann died less than a year later, on February 8th, 1957 of what was likely either bone, pancreatic or prostate cancer. Accounts differ on which diagnosis was made first. He was 53 years old. His death came after two years of illness which eventually confined him to a wheelchair. On his deathbed, he entertained his brother by reciting the first few lines of each page from Goethe’s Faust, word-for-word, by heart.
Related Privatdozent newsletters:
The Unparalleled Genius of John von Neumann, May 19th 2021
The Martians of Budapest, Oct 2nd 2021
Can We Survive Technology? — John von Neumann (1955), Nov 1st 2021
The Duties of John von Neumann’s Assistant in the 1930s, Jul 11th 2021
John von Neumann’s Minimax Theorem (1928), Mar 26th 2021
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