After Hours Conversations 2010-2011

October - November 2010 ; February - March 2011

After Hours Conversations is a program founded in the spring of 2008 by Caroline Bynum of the School of Historical Studies and Piet Hut of the Program in Interdisciplinary Studies. The Conversations are informal meetings that are held in Harry's Bar, from 5:15 pm till 7:00 pm, on Mondays and Thursdays, in October and November and again in February and March. In the fall semester, Caroline Bynum and Helmut Hofer of the School of Mathematics will moderate the sessions. In the second term, Caroline, Helmut, and Piet will be present as moderators.

The format is as follows. 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 20 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 Caroline Bynum ( or Helmut Hofer ( To volunteer for a talk in the second semester, you can send an email to Caroline Bynum (, Helmut Hofer ( 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 4, 2010
Presentation by Angelos Chaniotis, School of Historical Studies:
From Achilles' Rage to 'No Drama Obama': Emotions and the Historian

Thursday, October 7, 2010
Presentation by Juan Maldacena, School of Natural Sciences:
What is Spacetime?

Monday, October 11, 2010
Presentation by Tomoko Masuzawa, School of Social Science:
Secular by Default? The Modern University and Religion

Thursday, October 14, 2010
[ no meeting this day; there is a Math cocktail party in the dining hall ]

Monday, October 18, 2010
Presentation by Jessica Goldberg, School of Historical Studies:
The Cairo Geniza: Writing History from Very Special Garbage

Thursday, October 21, 2010
Presentation by Tom Phillips, Director's Visitor:
From an Artist's Life: The Pompidou Affair

Monday, October 25, 2010
Presentation by Marni Sandweiss, School of Historical Studies:
Uncovering a Secret American Life: What Are the Limits of Historical Speculation?

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Presentation by Carolyn Abbate, School of Historical Studies:
What I Learned from Producing Operas: The Incompatibility of Knowledge and Performance

Monday, November 1, 2010
Presentation by Michel Reymond, Chef, Dining Services:
The Institute: A Place to Eat

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Presentation by Fred Sherry, Visiting Artist:
The Future of Music

Monday, November 8, 2010
Presentation by Padma Kaimal, School of Historical Studies:
The Visual as Evidence: Seeing Auspiciousness in 8th-Century India

Thursday, November 11, 2010
Presentation by Noga Alon, School of Mathematics:
Combinatorial Reasoning in Information Theory

Monday, November 15, 2010
AHC talk canceled but Harry's Bar will be open.

Thursday, November 18, 2010
Presentation by Peter Urquhart, School of Historical Studies:
The Format of Music c. 1500, and Why It Matters

Monday, November 22, 2010
Presentation by Arnold Levine, School of Natural Sciences:
Personalized Medicine; The Future Is Coming and It Is Expensive

Thursday, November 25, 2010
[ no meeting this day; this is the Thanksgiving holiday ]

Second Semester

Monday, January 31, 2011
Presentation by Derek Bermel, Artist in Residence:
Stravinsky, Hip-hop, and the Scientific Method

Thursday, February 3, 2011
Presentation by Edward Witten, School of Natural Sciences:
My Life with Knots

Monday, February 7, 2011
Presentation by Vladimir Voevodsky, School of Mathematics:
Mathematics and Computers

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Presentation by Himanshu Ray, School of Historical Studies:
Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Roman Britain and the History of India

Monday, February 14, 2011
Presentation by Peter Goddard, Director, Institute for Advanced Study:
Houses of Refuge and Entertainment:
Why Are Institutes for Advanced Study Proliferating?

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Presentation by Avinash Dixit, School of Social Science:
Mutual Insurance Among Pastoral Cattle Herders in Kenya - A Game-Theoretic Perspective

Monday, February 21, 2011
[ no meeting this day; IAS is closed for President's Day ]

Thursday, February 24, 2011
Presentation by Constance Bouchard, School of Historical Studies:
The Fantasy Middle Ages and the Real Middle Ages

Monday, February 28, 2011
Presentation by Aurélien Barrau, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies:
Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and 21st Century Physics: Can the French Theory be Revived and Extended?

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Presentation by Norman Kutcher, School of Historical Studies:
Testosterone and Human Aggression: Evidence from Eighteenth-Century Chinese Legal Cases

Monday, March 7, 2011
Presentation by Caroline W. Bynum, School of Historical Studies:
Did Medieval Women Really See Visions?

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Presentation by Susan Pedersen, School of Historical Studies:
Making Causal Arguments in International History

Monday, March 14, 2011
Presentation by Michael Harris, School of Mathematics:
Avatars and Virtual Realism in Mathematics

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Presentation by Larry Guth, School of Mathematics:
Tangled Loops of Rope: What Mathematicians Understand and What They Don't

Monday, March 21, 2011
Presentation by Gabriella Coleman, School of Social Science:
The Anthropology of Hackers

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Presentation by Matthew Kahle, School of Mathematics:
The Geometry of Random Spaces

Monday, March 28, 2011
Presentation by Menachem Fisch, School of Historical Studies :
The Problem with Copernicus

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Presentation by Henry Farber, School of Social Science:
Unemployment in the Great Recession: Why are Durations So Long?