Writing for The Walrus, Viviane Fairbank explores the work of Robert P. Langlands. “The question of what purpose mathematics serves—or whether it needs to serve one—has very real consequences for its practitioners,” writes Fairbank. “Against this backdrop, the various interpretations of the Langlands programs have become a case study for debates about the justification of abstract science.”
“We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest, above all the pursuit of higher learning, cannot admit of any conditions as to personnel other than those designed to promote the objects for which this institution is established, and particularly with no regard whatever to accidents of race, creed, or sex.”
Nature is an important source of inspiration for mathematics, even of the purest kind. In recent years, ideas from quantum field theory, elementary particle physics, and string theory have completely transformed mathematics.
Social Science Member Daniel Aldana Cohen, writing for Dissent, discusses the ecological threat posed by Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's new president, and how social movements must mobilize to meet that threat.
Professor Emeritus Michael Walzer responds to critiques on his article “Just and Unjust Leaks,” published in Foreign Affairs this spring: “Criticized from both sides, I could just enjoy the comforts of the middle position. But I am not exactly in the middle; it’s more as if I am moving from side to side."
Why—despite decades (indeed centuries)—of social protest, policy initiatives, educational reform, nongovernmental organization activity, national and international legislation—does gender inequality persist?
A lot of the time when you do math, you’re stuck. But at the same time, there are all these moments where you feel privileged that you get to work with it. And you have this sensation of transcendence. You feel like you've been part of something really meaningful.