The Institute Letter Fall 2009

On March 28, 2009, a nine-year-old girl visited a clinic near San Diego with a fever and cough. Similar cases of febrile  respiratory illness followed within the next two weeks in several places in California and Texas. At the same time, Mexican...

I arrived at the Institute for Advanced Study in October 2003, after spending two years as a fellow at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, in Geneva, Switzerland. For any theoretical physicist the Institute is a mythical place, and the offer to become a Member presented the possibility of a life-changing experience.

“I remember going into Professor Habicht’s office—he always had time no matter how busy he was—and saying ‘How would you like it if IG II2 2971 dates to around 250 instead of 314?’ . . . I did not expect to hear anything for a day or two, as I had interrupted him in the midst of his work. Was I ever mistaken! About one half hour later I opened my door to his knock.”

When I came to the Institute as a Director’s Visitor in January 2009, I had very little idea of what to expect, but at least I knew what I expected to be working on during the two months of my stay. This is the candid story of how my expectations...

From the very beginning of its existence, the Muslim world practiced and developed an elaborate legal system meant to control and to judge all aspects of life . . . This system, known as sharia, was based on the Qurʾān, an immutable divine...

On April 10, 1955, the New York Times announced the publication of a bibliographic volume published under J. Robert Oppenheimer, then Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, on the occasion of...

Pierre first started visiting Moscow in the 1970s, deep in the USSR era; at the time, such visits from a foreign mathematician, while not expressly forbidden, were quite non-trivial to arrange, and all the more valuable for that. He has continued...

I am very skeptical about all the pronouncements that are made by the experts. I know how completely uncertain the subject is. But I don’t claim to be an expert myself, so I won’t argue with anybody about details. And I am certainly not a...

Two years ago I was asked to organize a ­medium-­size Picasso exhibition in Rome, the first in that city since 1953, that would function as an introduction to the artist’s work for a whole generation of Romans who had not been exposed to it (...

For slightly over a year, I have largely put aside my longtime interests in the foundations of quantum mechanics and in particle physics, and have been working on dark matter. This interest came about in two different ways. The first was a paper...

There was no turning back, once word leaked out that the Institute was looking for a home. . . . Veblen found the combination of the Bamberger fortune and the depressed land prices of the 1930s a potent mix. “There is no educational institution in the United States which has not in the beginning made the mistake of acquiring too little rather than too much land,” he wrote to Flexner.

The 2009 International Seminar on Mathematics Education, a program of the Institute for Advanced Study/Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI), brought together teams from Australia, Cambodia, Denmark, Israel, Namibia, Peru, Vietnam, and the...

In this lecture, David Cole, Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, discusses how it became legal in the United States to engage in techniques such as water boarding by examining the role of lawyers in the Justice...

From the very beginning of its existence, the Muslim world practiced and developed an elaborate legal system meant to control and to judge all aspects of life . . . This system, known as sharia, was based on the Qurʾān, an immutable...