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.
I had the opportunity to read some banned books and to meet a few open-minded professors. I gradually realized that I had been deceived for so many years by all of the textbooks, teachers, and Communist Party propaganda. “Think independently!”––I can still remember well how excited I was the first time I heard this sentence.
The Yemeni manuscript collections constitute a unique treasure trove for large segments of the Islamic intellectual tradition—Sunni as well as Shii—much of which has not survived anywhere else in the Islamic world.
The Institute is deeply saddened by the passing of Fields Medalist Maryam Mirzakhani, former Member in the School of Mathematics (2015), seen here giving the first of three 2012 Marston Morse Lectures.
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.
According to Patricia Crone, nativist “prophets” are a typical phenomenon in the aftermath of imperial expansions—natives who have acculturated themselves with the hegemonic foreigners but are nevertheless denied recognition by the ruling elite, an experience which prompts them to revitalize their native identity.
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.
Much of the theory of knots is best understood in the framework of twentieth- and twenty-first-century developments in quantum physics. In other words, what really fascinates me are not the knots per se but the connections between the knots and 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.
When Fang Lizhi, one of China’s most distinguished scientists, began in 1986 to talk to his students about the “universal rights” of human beings, he knew the risks. In those days, the use of the term “rights” in China was highly sensitive, even dangerous.
I do not take the Prisoner’s Dilemma seriously as a model of evolution of cooperation, because I consider it likely that groups lacking cooperation are like dodoes, losing the battle for survival collectively rather than individually.
Tornadoes are a high-level description of the motions of enormous numbers of interacting molecules. We want to understand how mind emerges from brain, just as we understand how tornadoes emerge from molecules.
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.
What is wrong with terrorism? How is terrorism chosen—picked out of all the possible political strategies? How ought we to fight against terrorism? Or better, what are the moral limits that anti-terrorists ought to recognize?
The basic goal of TDA is to apply topology, one of the major branches of mathematics, to develop tools for studying geometric features of data. . . . I’ll describe one application of TDA to oncology, where insight into the geometric features of data offered by TDA led researchers to the discovery of a new subtype of breast cancer.
Throughout most of its history, topology has been regarded as strictly abstract mathematics, without applications. However, topology is now beginning to come up in our understanding of many different real world phenomena, from our understanding of evolution and disease to the relationship between topology and liquid crystals.