The Institute Letter Summer 2015

I first met Emery Robinson at Albert Leonard Junior High School in New Rochelle, New York. He was two grades behind me, a seventh grader when I was in the ninth grade. He was known as a manchild, not only in terms of size, because he was much...

Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer
Director of Above

Dear Sir,

First, please let me apologize for my manner of speaking when we discussed quantum theory recently. This manner is unjustifiably aggressive.

In 1987, in my third year as a graduate student in anthropology, I arrived in the small California town of Livermore, host to one of two nuclear weapons design laboratories in the United States. Thanks to an indulgent dissertation committee,...

Over the last ten years, national and international courts have prosecuted a greater number of political leaders and their propagandists who incite others to commit acts of war, terrorism, and genocide. The United States government, a self-avowed...

During Augustus’s reign (late first century B.C.E.), the philosopher Athenodoros returned from Rome to his hometown Tarsos, in southwest Turkey. When he found the city dominated by the poet and demagogue Boethos, he used the authority given to...

Three years ago, just before it was scheduled to shut down in preparation for its second phase, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) discovered the Higgs boson. Its discovery was expected, having been predicted nearly sixty years earlier by Peter...

Addressing an international audience in 2004, Professor Dong Guangbi, an erudite historian of science, summarized Chinese physics development over the previous century, and he argued that the country from which Chinese physicists and physics...

Topology is the branch of geometry that deals with large-scale features of shapes. One cliché is that a topologist cannot distinguish a doughnut from a coffee cup: if a coffee cup were made of rubber, one could continuously deform it to a...

What do the motion of the planets in our solar system, the energy levels of the hydrogen atom, and the interactions between subatomic particles have in common? Surprisingly, they are all governed by the same hidden symmetry principles. This is...

In 2006, Edward Witten, Charles Simonyi Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, cowrote with Anton Kapustin a 225-page paper, “Electric-Magnetic Duality and the Geometric Langlands Program,” on the relation of part of the...

The Rubik’s Cube is one of the most popular toys in history. It is also an example of a permutation puzzle, which have existed in mathematics in one form or another for at least 140 years. In hindsight, it is strange that the cube ever became so...

The Institute was invited by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute to cosponsor and promote the country’s first National Math Festival, a three-day celebration held April 16–18 in Washington, D.C., to encourage and support the math of...