String Theory

Ideas that originate in particle physics have an uncanny tendency to appear in the most diverse mathematical fields. This is especially true for string theory. Its stimulating influence in mathematics will have a lasting and rewarding impact,...

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 Institute’s thirteenth annual Prospects in Theoretical Physics (PiTP) summer program for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, which focused on string theory, was truly extraordinary in that it overlapped with Strings 2014. This is one...

In 1935, Albert Einstein and collaborators wrote two papers at the Institute for Advanced Study. One was on quantum mechanics [1] and the other was on black holes [2]. The paper on quantum mechanics is very famous and influential. It pointed out...

Following the discovery in July of a Higgs-like boson—an effort that took more than fifty years of experimental work and more than 10,000 scientists and engineers working on the Large Hadron Collider—Juan Maldacena and Nima Arkani-Hamed, two...

John Brockman, founder and proprietor of the Edge website, asks a question every New Year and invites the public to answer it. THE EDGE QUESTION 2012 was, “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” He...

On November 14, the Institute for Advanced Study announced the appointment of Robbert Dijkgraaf as its ninth Director, succeeding, as of July 1, 2012, Peter Goddard, who has served as Director since January 2004.

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In the two years I spent at the Institute, 1957–59, I had the opportunity of meeting two of the founders of the quantum theory—Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac. In the case of Bohr, perhaps “meeting” overstates the case. He was a Mem­ber in the spring...

The ancients thought that space and time were preexisting entities on which motion happens. Of course, this is also our naive intuition. According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, we know that this is not true. Space and time are dynamical objects whose shape is modified by the bodies that move in it.

In the twentieth century, mathematicians developed a deep theory of knots, which was revolutionized by the discovery of the Jones polynomial—a way to calculate a number for every knot—by Vaughan F. R. Jones in the early...

The fundamental lemma has been described as a gross understatement. Says Andrew Wiles, a Visitor in the School of Mathematics and an Institute Trustee, “At first, it was thought to be a minor irritant, but it subsequently became clear that it was not a lemma but rather a central problem in the field.”

Physicists have used Feynman diagrams as a tool for calculating scattering amplitudes that describe particle interactions for more than six decades. Their broad utility was due initially in large part to the seminal work of Freeman Dyson,...