Explore firsthand accounts of research and questions posed by IAS scientists and scholars. From art history to string theory, from moral anthropology to the long-term fate of the universe, contributions span the last decade to the research of today.
In a photograph dating from 1931, Matisse is shown sketching The Dance—a gigantic mural commissioned by Albert Barnes for his foundation—with his charcoal at the end of a six-foot bamboo stick. This unusual practice stems from Matisse’s discovery that squaring up a small sketch, as has been the standard procedure for large paintings and murals, was incompatible with his aesthetic.
My decision to search for Ramanujan the mathematician would mean going a bit more distance out of my way. I wanted to increase my knowledge, and that would slow down my publication rate, something that anyone trying to land a permanent job must take into account. The Institute’s offer was therefore a godsend. I could concentrate on my mathematics in an environment free of other distractions and responsibilities, and I would be able to learn from some of the world’s most brilliant and talented mathematicians.
Abraham Flexner’s perspective on the “usefulness of useless knowledge” has only gained in substance and breadth since his time. Fundamental inquiry moves exploration as far up to the headwaters as possible, producing ideas that slowly and steadily turn into concrete applications and further studies.
We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest, above all the pursuit of higher learning, cannot admit of any conditions as to personnel other than those designed to promote the objects for which this institution is established, and particularly with no regard whatever to accidents of race, creed, or sex.
Global political forces in power from Turkey to the United States are posing serious threats to the autonomy of scientific research and the mobility of researchers, undercutting two cardinal conditions for scientific progress. Walls, fences, bans, blocks, restrictions, cuts, and expulsions are slowly becoming run-of-the-mill terms for us to navigate in an increasingly precarious political landscape.
To Albert Einstein, she was “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.” More straightforward in his praise, Einstein’s fellow Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Hermann Weyl, called her a “great woman mathematician […indeed] the greatest that history has known.” Her name was Emmy Noether, and her short but remarkable life left an indelible mark not only on the history of mathematics, but also on that of IAS in its critical first years.
Einstein’s actions did not by themselves cause McCarthy’s downfall. But they certainly facilitated it, by reaffirming essential principles that date back to the Enlightenment, and by empowering many others to keep up the continuing fight to protect democracy.
In 1930, the Institute for Advanced Study was created as an academic retreat for the pursuit of daring research, unfettered by material constraints. From the beginning, political turmoil around the world interfered with this dream. This exhibit traces key moments in this history, focusing on questions of displacement and academic freedom in Europe, the United States, and Latin America from the 1930s to the 1970s.
In view of the poor state of scholarship in the area of Zaydi studies, the challenges that result from the dispersal of the material, and the disastrous situation in present-day Yemen, the tasks at hand are threefold, namely "preserving" and "studying" the Zaydi manuscript tradition, as well as "democratizing" access to these materials.
The Chief Harem Eunuch’s influence extended beyond palace politics, on the one hand, and the holy cities, on the other. Through his personal pious endowments, he founded mosques, madrasas, Qur’ān schools, and libraries throughout the empire that had a profound effect on Ottoman religious and intellectual life.
The scholarly investigation of the Jewish Muʿtazila, its historical connection to Muslim counterparts, and a systematic exploitation of the Islamic primary materials preserved in Jewish collections, are still in their infancy.
What are the means through which ancient artists represented the emotions of gods, mythical heroes, and “real” people? How were images and texts exploited to arouse emotions in an ancient (and modern) audience?
Reducing all leftist ideals to Stalinism and calling anyone who questions the long-term sustainability or desirability of global capitalism a communist, I believe, is an intentional rhetorical strategy of the political and economic elite who have the most to lose from any challenge to the current status quo.
One of the surprising things about chaos is that it took so long for physicists to appreciate how common it is. This is despite the fact that people seem to come naturally programmed with intuition for the basic phenomenon.
An IAS teatime conversation in 1935 between Nathan Rosen, Boris Podolsky, and Albert Einstein, about a fundamental issue of interpretation related to entangled wave-functions, introduced an ongoing debate over quantum physics.
There is no such thing as a homogeneous European culture, with which the Bosnian Muslims, the third-generation Turks in Germany, the Greeks, the Roma, the French Jews, the Basques, and the Laps––not to mention the Indians and Pakistanis living in London––can identify themselves.
Former Member Claude Shannon's "A Mathematical Theory of Communication” created the field of information theory in 1948. Beyond its impact on communications technology, Shannon’s work has had tremendous impact on computer science and engineering, artificial intelligence, and probability and statistics.
When I was still a graduate student, I came across a remarkable manuscript: two sheets of papyrus inscribed with careless cursive Egyptian, in narrow, wobbly columns, in black ink. It was inscribed in two forms of Egyptian cursive: hieratic and demotic. In Ancient Egypt, these script varieties were usually kept apart.
As of 1985 it was still not entirely safe to write about cosmology. In May of that year, I published an article in the Chinese journal Science in which I introduced quantum cosmology and referred in passing to the view that “the universe arose from nothing.”
We will not know for years how effectively HPV vaccines actually prevent cervical and related cancers or how the population of viral serotypes adapts. Meantime, however, we now know that prices can be much lower and still profitable for countries where most of the cancer, hospitalizations, and deaths occur.
It is indeed the case that, after centuries of political ostracism, women have recently become more present in French political life . . . but the presence of a few prominent female figures and seemingly favorable statistics do not tell the whole story.
Explore a collection of Robert Langlands’s papers, as well as some of his lectures and correspondence, on topics ranging from functoriality, representation theory, and Shimura varieties to endoscopy, percolation, and geometric theory.
Robert Langlands grew up in a small town in British Columbia where his father owned a building supply store. “When I was a child I liked to add and subtract,” says Langlands. “In our store, my mother worked. And I remember competing with her. We would tally lumber; she would do it on the adding machine and I would do it in my head.”
The notion of randomness has intrigued people for millennia. Concepts like “chance,” “luck,” etc., play a major role in everyday life and in popular culture. In this article, I try to be precise about the meaning and utility of randomness and pseudorandomness.