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.
Even those who believe in the positive effects of expanding private and public credit, now as in the past, cannot easily agree on where to draw the boundaries of that expansion and what kind of oversight might best prevent fraud and the emergence of oligopolies.
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. My alternative explanation, based on psychoanalytic and political theory, has to do with the ways in which gender and politics are interdependent...
"It's kind of like physics in its formative stages—Newton asking what makes the apple fall down," says Sanjeev Arora, Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics, explaining the current scientific excitement about machine learning.
The Institute Letter interviews Juan Maldacena on quantum information, spacetime, and efforts to understand how the view of black holes as a quantum computer is consistent and compatible with black holes from Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
In stark contrast to the elegant, concise algorithmic gems, which were man-made, many new algorithms simply “create themselves,” with relatively little intervention from humans, mainly through interaction with massive data.
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. I am interested in having the historian at the table while a scientific controversy is ongoing. 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.
On how the history of science can contribute to two controversial aspects of biomedical research: gene patenting, and race and genomics, and on recent advances in immunotherapy treatment of breast cancer
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?
Professor Irving Lavin (1927–2019) was an art historian distinguished by his conviction that the study of the history of art was the study of the history of ideas. One of the ideas he found most exciting was that of the Institute for Advanced Study.
Seen in the light of the antiquarian precedent, there is reason to believe that the contribution of the sciences of the past to historical research can help produce new histories. Yet, a word of caution is required.
In 2016, the Institute celebrated the work and impact of Professor Jean Bourgain. One of the most prolific and important mathematicians of our generation, Bourgain had an extraordinary ability to bring new perspectives to longstanding questions in number theory, probability theory, and statistical physics.
Locally symmetric spaces are the home of the Langlands program—a set of overarching and interconnected conjectures connecting representation theory to number theory, first proposed in 1967 by Robert Langlands, now Professor Emeritus in the School of Mathematics.
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.
In 2012, Ahmed Almheiri, current Member in the School of Natural Sciences, coauthored a paper that confounded theoretical physicists, sparked attention from the New York Times to Scientific American, and prompted the organization of workshops and the publication of dozens of papers around the world.
The world is emergent and always unfolding in time. Painting has difficulty representing this kind of time. The portrait tries to do that, paradoxically, by representing the individual fixed in historical time.
It is difficult to convey the enormous impact of his revolutionary idea. Langlands showed how the same formula can originate from two entirely different worlds of thought. To employ another metaphor: it is as if two chefs cooking with two entirely different recipes, ingredients, and methods of preparation, produce exactly the same dish.
The outbreak of the war transformed them––independently of their personal story, feelings, ideas, and sense of belonging––into enemy aliens, accused of posing a threat to national security. As the war went on, the campaign against enemy aliens extended well beyond individuals who had originated from an enemy country. The loyalty of groups of citizens was questioned based on ethnic origin, religious belief, or former nationality.
In France, the expansion of the prison population with its socioracial component occurred at the very moment when socioeconomic inequalities started to deepen after a long period of contraction and when ethnoracial minorities became the target of stigmatization campaigns from right-wing parties. The penal state has definitely been a way of governing the poor.
I think there is no better introduction to Kelly’s work than his earlier years in Paris, especially when it comes to understanding why things that look apparently very simple are in fact much more complex than they seem.
There is an obvious playfulness in the way Picasso constantly shifted his artistic identity when least expected—and the title of the show, “Picasso Harlequin,” was meant to reflect that: he was like Harlequin, a character with whom he identified all his life and of whom he drew and painted many versions in various, often incompatible, styles.
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.
After seizing power on his own behalf in December 1949, Army Colonel Adib al-Shishakli effectively ruled Syria for much of the next five years, during which he wrought long-term changes in Syria’s political culture and initiated a host of policies and practices subsequently adopted by Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser, Syria’s Hafez al-Assad, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and other authoritarian rulers.
In 1987, in my third year as a graduate student in anthropology, I arrived in the small California town of Livermore, host to one of two nuclear weapons design laboratories in the United States. . . . intent on understanding the culture of the scientists, mainly physicists, who worked on the most powerful weapons on Earth.