The Institute Letter Spring 2022

Explore the legacy of civil rights activist and educator Bob Moses from the perspective of Distinguished Visiting Professor Karen Uhlenbeck; read about the current struggle of Ukrainians and its ties to the past; and take a tour of the Institute’s intellectual heritage with IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor David Nirenberg. Discover the exciting work of IAS scholars—like the proof of the Kahn-Kalai Conjecture, the observation of a new state of matter, the first image of our galaxy’s black hole, and recent publications by Faculty and Members. Also included are articles about the new professorships established at IAS and interviews with Rosanna Dent, Member in the School of Historical Studies; John Urschel, Member in the School of Mathematics; and Fernando Brancoli, Fellow in the Summer Program in Social Science.

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Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. It has created a refugee crisis, the scale of which has not been seen since World War II in Europe. The toll of civilian casualties is in the thousands, with countless others missing, injured, trapped, or lacking in essential medicines, food, and water.

When Karen Uhlenbeck was a MacArthur fellow, between 1983–88, she went on a series of incredible adventures visiting other MacArthur fellows and learning about their projects. “This was actually one of the high points of my life,” Uhlenbeck said to me, laughing. She recalls whale watching in Hawaii with Roger Payne, a trip to the Amazon to see Philip DeVries’s work with butterflies, studying lemurs in Madagascar with Pat Wright, and a Montana dinosaur dig with Jack Horner.

On May 20, 2022, IAS celebrated Founders Day in recognition of Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld, the brother and sister who founded and endowed IAS on May 20, 1930, providing for its lasting and essential independence.

Pinakia, here shown as casts made of Plaster of Paris, were small bronze plates used in ancient Athens for the process of democratically selecting a group of citizens to serve on a jury. Athenian citizens would nominate themselves for jury duty, volunteering their bronze plates to be inserted into a kleroterion (a machine with rows of slots and a built-in lottery system).

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center engages in critical work to sustain and highlight the unique histories that distinguish the Institute for Advanced Study. With this work in mind, the Archives Center would like to shine a spotlight on former Member in the School of Mathematics Hideki Yukawa (1907–1981).

Update (06/17/2022): This research is now published in Astrophysical Journal Letters and can be accessed here.

Looks can be deceiving. The light from an incandescent bulb seems steady, but it flickers 120 times per second. Because the brain only perceives an average of the information it receives, this flickering is blurred and the perception of constant illumination is a mere illusion.

On May 6, 2022 the IAS Bamberger Medal was presented to Shelby White, IAS Trustee Emerita and Founder of the Leon Levy Foundation, at a celebration on the Institute’s campus in Princeton, NJ. Shelby has championed the Institute throughout the four decades since her late husband Leon Levy’s appointment to the Board of Trustees in 1988.