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.

Artist's representation of COVID-19

Arnold J. Levine is Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study and leads the Institute’s Simons Center for Systems Biology in the School of Natural Sciences. An acclaimed leader in cancer research, he

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Lia Medeiros, a Member and astrophysics postdoctoral fellow in the School of Natural Sciences, is interested in using astronomical objects and phenomena to test fundamental theories of physics. She is a winner...

Arnold Levine converses with several students in a circle

In the summer of 1968, a young, newly minted assistant professor moved from a postdoctoral position at Caltech to Princeton University. Schooled and trained over the previous seven years in the reductionist approaches of Watson and Cricks’...

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By the twentieth century, mathematics had advanced into rather abstract realms, transcending its origins, which had been largely driven by questions closer to the natural world. Physics on the other hand, especially after the development of...

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In 1989, Joanne Cohn, a physicist then at the Institute for Advanced Study, began distributing TeX files of string theory papers via email. By August of 1991, the email list had grown to 180 physicists—an...

Benjamin Greenbaum talks at the podium in Wolfensohn Hall at the Institute for Advanced Study

During his career, Arnold J. Levine, Professor Emeritus in the School of Natural Sciences, has worked across the biological sciences, from virology and immunology to molecular biology and genetics, and mentored...

Arnold Levine gives a lecture in Bloomberg Hall

The 2019 Prospects in Theoretical Physics program, "Great Problems in Biology for Physicists," took place July 15–26, 2019, covering topics ranging from virology, cancer, and immunology to machine learning and...

On May 3, 2019, Scott Tremaine, Richard Black Professor in the IAS School of Natural Sciences, gave a lecture on the evidence for a supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way galaxy, denoted Sagittarius A*. The talk focuses on what we...

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"Multi-faceted gems, each with crystalline symmetry that gives them an unexpected mathematical beauty”—that is how the physicist Lance Dixon describes the mathematical objects used to predict what happens when nature’s fundamental particles...

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You may have done this experiment as a child: spread a bunch of iron filings on a table, a heap of insouciant metal dust. Now place a bar magnet in their midst, and ah! The iron filings snap to attention, as if endowed with a sudden sense of...

Ideas

“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.”

Historical Studies

Cord Whitaker

A conversation on the current racial unrest, its place in the history of racism, and where we go from here

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!

By George Dyson

In 1916, social theorist Thorstein Veblen called for the post-war institution of “academic houses of refuge . . . where teachers and students of all nationalities, including Americans with the rest, may pursue their chosen work.” 

Social Science

By Ruha Benjamin

Like everyone who lives in a heavily policed neighborhood, I grew up with a keen sense of being watched. Family, friends, and neighbors—all of us caught up in a carceral web, in which other people’s safety and freedom are predicated on our containment.

Historical Studies

By Monica H. Green

The Institute is a remarkably modest place. Like all Members, I was provided a lovely apartment, a simple office (with computer), access to libraries, lunch in the dining hall, tea in the afternoon. So how does new knowledge come out of such a simple mix? 

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. 

Mathematics

By Richard Taylor

One of the oldest subjects in mathematics is the study of Diophantine equations, i.e., the study of whole number (or fractional) solutions to polynomial equations. 

Natural Sciences

By Edward Witten

Much of the theory of knots is best understood in the framework of 20th- and 21st-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.

Ideas

Robbert Dijkgraaf

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Joanne Lipman, IAS’s Peretsman Scully Distinguished Journalism Fellow discuss the coronavirus epidemic, its impact on IAS, and the elevated role of science in society.

Historical Studies

"Plague in an Ancient City" by Michael Sweerts

Is history repeating itself? Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History and Classics in the School of Historical Studies, talks with Joanne Lipman, IAS Distinguished Journalism Fellow, about the parallels between ancient plagues and today’s Covid pandemic.

Artist's representation of COVID-19

Professor Emeritus Arnold J. Levine spoke with IAS's Joanne Lipman about the novel coronavirus outbreak, how it compares to previous pandemics, and potential therapies in the works that may help stop the spread.