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.

Natalie Paquette, Member in the School of Natural Sciences, is a mathematical physicist whose research interests span string theory and quantum field theory. Most recently, she has been exploring...

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...

arXiv.org logo

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...

Social Science

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By Alondra Nelson

Genetics is today engaged in practices of identity formation, in philanthropy and socioeconomic development projects, as corroborating evidence in civil litigation and historical debates, and elsewhere. 

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.”

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.

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.

Historical Studies

On researching the dynamics of race-making and the value of the Middle Ages to the work of racial justice

Mathematics

By Matthew Kahle

In hindsight, it is strange that the Rubik’s Cube ever became so popular considering how hard it is. 

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? 

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By Sara Seager

A 2013 talk by past Long-term Member Sara Seager on her continuing search for expolanetary lifeforms.

Historical Studies

By W. Anthony Sheppard

When I arrived at the Institute, I thought I knew exactly what I would accomplish as a Member in the School of Historical Studies… However, through a chance encounter with a nineteenth-century musical artifact, my carefully crafted research schedule was completely derailed.

Video

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.” 

Mathematics

By Vladimir Voevodsky

What would inconsistency of the first order arithmetic mean for mathematics? What we need are foundations which can be used to construct reliable proofs despite being inconsistent.

Social Science

By Mary L. Dudziak

Politicians and other leaders have regularly framed the current global health crisis as a period of “wartime.” In this 2012 article, Mary Dudziak, Member (2007–08) in the School of Social Science, examines the meaning of “wartime,” investigating the temporal element in warfare and the ways war structures our conception of time.

Historical Studies

By Sabine Schmidtke

View a video in which Sabine Schmidtke, Professor of Islamic Intellectual History in the School of Historical Studies, discusses the vast, global, and indispensable Islamic manuscript tradition that is currently under immediate threat.

Meet the new and returning scientists and scholars who have come to IAS to interact, explore, share, and discover.

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Newspaper snippet featuring Einstein at IAS

View a presentation on the history of the Institute by Director Robbert Dijkgraaf and remarks by Faculty from each of the four Schools: Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Camillo De Lellis, Nathan Seiberg, and Alondra Nelson.