Ideas

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.

Ideas

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By Barbara M.T.P. Baert

The ancients had a word for the joy and the sorrow of an opportunity that suddenly presents itself but is just as suddenly gone: kairos. This article explores the peculiar representations of Kairos in art history and iconography. 

Ideas

Robbert Dijkgraaf with France A. Córdova in front of Fuld Hall at the Institute for Advanced Study

“The future of knowledge relies on the cultivation of aspiring scholars and scientists from around the world,” says Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor. As the National Science Foundation celebrates its 70th anniversary, the IAS presents #NSFStories from the next generation that attest to a long and fruitful institutional alliance that continues to empower scholars. 

Gossuin de Metz's "Image du Monde"

By Suzanne Conklin Akbari

At the Institute, while each School certainly has its own character and researchers’ work is highly specialized, we share the experience of bewilderment, and the perpetual yearning for clarity.

Natural Sciences

Arnold Levine converses with several students in a circle

By Arnold J. Levine

The tools of biology will blend with computer sciences, physics, and mathematics, and the practitioners of biology will undergo another paradigm shift. 

Natural Sciences

By Juan Maldacena

What if black holes behave like ordinary quantum mechanical objects—and information about them is not lost, as previously thought, but retained on their horizons?

Natural Sciences

View talks by experts on topics ranging from virology, cancer, and immunology to machine learning and neural networks. 

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By Angelos Chaniotis

The developments that Alexander’s campaigns set in motion ultimately led to the creation of a complex network of political, administrative, economic, and cultural connections that came close to the modern phenomenon of globalization. 

On February 13, 1960, students line the counter of a dime store in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest of the store’s refusal to serve them.

By Michael Walzer

Every political activist who has fought for a good cause dreams of a chance to fight again. We live, right now, in a bad time; American politics has not been this ugly since the Joe McCarthy years or the Red Scare and anti-immigrant frenzy of the early 1920s. We need movements of resistance, and we need citizen activists who remember the old labor union imperative: Organize!

“Imagine you knew nothing about baking, but someone gave you a million different muffins. Could you figure out how to bake a muffin? That's the problem of machine learning,” says Chris Maddison, Member in the School of Mathematics. At IAS, he is developing methods for machine learning and exploring foundational questions about how learning from data is possible.

By Francesca Trivellato

The Promise and Peril of Credit examines key episodes in the West’s millennium-long struggle to delineate the place that finance ought to occupy in the social and political order. It does so by introducing readers to modes of thinking about the morality of credit that have become increasingly alien to us even as the questions that animated those early modern discussions remain as vital now as they were then.

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By Graham Farmelo

One of the biggest leaps forward in our understanding of these scattering amplitudes took place at the Institute for Advanced Study in the fall of 2003, when Edward Witten discovered a new approach to the subject, based on Roger Penrose’s twistors. They had yet to become part of mainstream physics, and most theorists regarded them as merely a mathematical curiosity. Witten’s work propelled them into the mainstream of theoretical physics, generated new lines of research, and opened up new ways of thinking about scattering in the subnuclear domain. 

“Myths about venture capital stand in the way of democratic deliberation about how our society might direct the socially generated surplus of today's economy towards building a better economy for the future.” 

Social Science

By Joan Wallach Scott

Some of the reasons usually offered to explain the persistence of gender inequality include large abstractions: patriarchy, capitalism, male self-interest, misogyny, religion. These are, of course, useful categories to work with, but none of them can account for how deep-rooted these inequalities are in our psyches, our cultures, and our politics. 

Natural Sciences

By Freeman J. Dyson

I do not take the Prisoner’s Dilemma seriously as a model of evolution of cooperation. I consider it likely that groups lacking cooperation are like dodoes, losing the battle for survival collectively rather than individually.

By Myles W. Jackson

My work in the history of science probes the porous boundaries between science and culture over the past two centuries. Much of it gestures toward the role of history in public policy.... We historians are rather good at illustrating that controversies have histories: how we arrived at where we are today is very informative. There have always been, and always will be, alternatives. 

By Didier Fassin

Cyclical movement of nature and worldly events, biology and biography: these are the two series that make life an entity at once overdetermined in its material dimension and indeterminate in its course . . . Can this binarism be resolved? Is it possible to think of life as biology and life as biography together?