After Hours Conversations 2009-2010

October - November 2009 ; February - March 2010

This year we will continue our program of interdisciplinary conversations, in the form of after-hours conversations. These conversations will be led by Caroline Bynum, Nicola Di Cosmo, and Piet Hut.

The after-hours meetings will be held in Harry's Bar, from 5:15 pm till 7:00 pm, two days a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, during the first semester, in October and November. Since Caroline will be on sabbatical this semester, Nicola and Piet will moderate the sessions.

During the second semester, we will continue the same schedule, Mondays and Thursdays, during the months of February and March. During that period, Caroline, and Piet will be present as moderators.

At 5:30 pm, someone will give an informal presentation of no more than 10 minutes, intended for a general audience. The topic will be a brief description of a major open problem in his or her field, together with suggestions for possible future progress with respect to that problem. This talk will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion, until 6:00 pm. During the remaining hour, everyone is free to mingle in more general discussions, preferably with others not from their own School.

If anyone would like to volunteer for giving a talk during the first semester, please send an email to Nicola Di Cosmo ( or Piet Hut ( To volunteer for a talk in the second semester, you can send an email to Caroline Bynum ( or Piet Hut (

Note that in Harry's bar all beverages including bottled water must be purchased with an IAS card.

Here is the list of speakers for the 10-minute presentations:

First Semester

Monday, October 5, 2009
Presentation by Aristotle Socrates, School of Natural Sciences:
Solar Systems Unlike our Own: Why are They Interesting

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Presentation by Sarah Fraser, School of Historical Studies:
Dunhuang Stories: Notes from the Silk Road.

Monday, October 12, 2009
Presentation by Derek Bermel, Artist-in-residence:
A Work in Progress

Thursday, October 15, 2009
[ no meeting this day; there is a Math cocktail party in the dining hall ]

Monday, October 19, 2009
Presentation by Sekhar Chivukula and Elizabeth Simmons, School of Natural Sciences:
Physics at the energy frontier: the quest to uncover the origin of mass

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Presentation by Molly Vallor, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies:
Zen in general: Muso Soseki's Conversations in a Dream

Monday, October 26, 2009
Presentation by Jonathan Israel, School of Historical Studies:
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in the French Revolution: was modern history's greatest shift engineered by Social Forces, Politics, or the Philosophers?

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Presentation by Frank Costigliola, School of Historical Studies:
Approaching George F. Kennan

Monday, November 2, 2009
Presentation by Matias Zaldarriaga, School of Natural Sciences:
Modern cosmology and the origin of our universe

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Presentation by Avishai Margalit, School of Historical Studies:
Con Man (or Woman)

Monday, November 9, 2009
Presentation by Phillip Griffiths, School of Mathematics:
African scientists doing African science in Africa: Why should we care?

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Presentation by Mike Gehret, Director's Office:
Philanthropy and Scholarship at the Institute for Advanced Study

Monday, November 16, 2009
Presentation by Christine Proust, School of Historical Studies:
Mathematics in Mesopotamia: from Elementary Education to Erudition

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Presentation by Serge J-F. Levy, Director's Visitor:
Know Thyself

Monday, November 23, 2009
Presentation by Klaas Ruitenbeek, School of Historical Studies:
Building and Rebuilding the Forbidden City

Thursday, November 26, 2009
[ no meeting this day; this is the Thanksgiving holiday ]

Second Semester

Monday, February 1, 2010
Presentation by Yve-Alain Bois, School of Historical Studies:
Pseudomorphosis, or the Hot Potato of 'Look Alikes'

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Presentation by Siobhan Roberts, Director's Visitor:
Gonzo Biography: Wrangling Collaboratively With a Live Subject

Monday, February 8, 2010
Presentation by Kevin Heng, School of Natural Sciences:
The Marriage of Food and Science: Reflections on Molecular Gastronomy from an Astrophysicist/Chef

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Presentation by Franciscus Verellen, School of Historical Studies:
Fateful Liabilities: the Ritual Agenda of Early Daoism

Monday, February 15, 2010
[ no meeting this day; this is the Presidents Day holiday ]

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Presentation by Nils Baas, School of Mathematics:
Borromean Rings - New Perspectives

Monday, February 22, 2010
Presentation by Alexia Schulz, School of Natural Sciences:
How Cosmology Benefits Society

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Presentation by Jack Matlock, School of Historical Studies:
Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray

Monday, March 1, 2010
Presentation by Didier Fassin, School of Social Science:
The Second Life of Trauma

Thursday, March 4, 2010
Presentation by Prashanth Ak, School of Natural Sciences:
Neuroscience and the Legal System

Monday, March 8, 2010
Presentation by Thomas Hegghammer, School of Historical Studies:
Why jihad went global: The history of al-Qaida reexamined

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Presentation by Christine Ferrara, Director's Office:
Inside/Out: Promoting IAS

Monday, March 15, 2010
Presentation by Julie Cooper, School of Social Science:
Is there a place for humility in modern political theory?

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Presentation by David Weinberg, School of Natural Sciences:
The Push of Gravity

Monday, March 22, 2010
Presentation by Sandra Bardsley, School of Historical Studies:
Was there ever a 'golden age' for women?

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Presentation by Wagner James Au, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies:
Real World Uses of Second Life