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.

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On April 10, 2019, we were presented with the first-ever close-up image of a black hole by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). This remarkable technological achievement was made possible by the collective efforts of hundreds of astrophysics,...

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A research team at IAS has recently announced the discovery of six new binary black hole mergers. The team applied a unique set of signal processing techniques to data made publicly available by the ...

Edward Witten lectures at the podium

From December 4–5, 2018, the School of Natural Sciences hosted a workshop on "Quantum Information and the Structure of Spacetime." The event focused on quantum aspects of black holes, with an emphasis on applying ideas from quantum information...

In the last six months, Juan Maldacena, Carl P. Feinberg Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, has received three major awards: the Lorentz Medal of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; the 2018 Einstein...

Phenomena with different levels of complexity are understood in terms of different irreducible concepts—turbulence, survival, alertness, and so forth. The brain is an assemblage of cells; a painting is an assemblage of chemical pigment. But what’...

How do we fit into our mathematical descriptions? Well, one thing I’ll tell you is that in general, when you have dualities, things that are easy to see in one description can be hard to see in the other description. So you and I, for example,...

“From Qubits to Spacetime,” the title of 2018's Prospects in Theoretical Physics program, took place from July 16–27, 2018, and covered topics ranging from the connections between quantum information and the structure of spacetime, to how...

In this public lecture, Juan Maldacena, Carl P. Feinberg Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, and Douglas Stanford, Member in the School of Natural Sciences,...

As part of Ideas: Celebrating 2017–18Clay Cordova, Marvin L. Goldberger Member in the School of ...

Professor Emeritus Freeman Dyson reads from his book Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography through Letters, a collection of personal letters to relatives, written between 1940 and the late 1970s, followed by a conversation with Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf

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.