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.

Meet 2022–23 Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., and Annette L. Nazareth Member in the School of Social Science, K-Sue Park. Her research examines the development of American property law and the creation of the American real estate market through the histories of colonization and enslavement. 

Verena Krebs is a medieval historian working on Christian Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, who draws on archaeology, art, and written sources for her scholarship. At IAS, Krebs will work on her second monograph, “Africa Collecting Europe: Patronage and Power in Christian Ethiopia, 1468–1530.”

Animating the Antique: Sculptural Encounter in the Age of Aesthetic Theory, a pioneering work of eighteenth and nineteenth century art history, has been published by Penn State University Press. Sarah Betzer, a Member and former Visitor (2014–15, 2016) in the School of Historical Studies, wrote the book during her time at the Institute, culminating in the groundbreaking and widely-acclaimed text that spans a century-and-a-half and offers new account of the distinctively modern allure of the antique.

During the heyday of the social movements of the 1960s, Martin Luther King’s citation of the abolitionist Theodore Parker’s—“the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice”—served as an inspirational and aspirational text. Even as events called into question that belief in the inevitability of progress, some things did seem to be permanent advancements.

When Karen Uhlenbeck was a MacArthur fellow, between 1983–88, she went on a series of incredible adventures visiting other MacArthur fellows and learning about their projects. “This was actually one of the high points of my life,” Uhlenbeck said to me, laughing. She recalls whale watching in Hawaii with Roger Payne, a trip to the Amazon to see Philip DeVries’s work with butterflies, studying lemurs in Madagascar with Pat Wright, and a Montana dinosaur dig with Jack Horner.

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. It has created a refugee crisis, the scale of which has not been seen since World War II in Europe. The toll of civilian casualties is in the thousands, with countless others missing, injured, trapped, or lacking in essential medicines, food, and water.

On May 20, 2022, IAS celebrated Founders Day in recognition of Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld, the brother and sister who founded and endowed IAS on May 20, 1930, providing for its lasting and essential independence.

Adventures of a Mathematician

The Institute for Advanced Study distributed $21,742.50 in stipends for mathematics and $10,000 for theoretical physics during the academic year 1935–36. Three hundred dollars, sufficient to secure entry to the United States, was awarded to the Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam (1909–84), who had written to John von Neumann about a problem in measure theory in 1934.

Karen Uhlenbeck’s Pioneering Path in Mathematics

[In high school] I remember the book by George Gamow, One, Two, Three, Infinity. I think that was my first mathematical achievement, to understand the differences in the kinds of infinities there are. I really liked that satisfaction of understanding why there was more than one kind of infinity. — Distinguished Visiting Professor Karen Uhlenbeck, the first woman to win the prestigious Abel prize

Knots and Quantum Theory

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.

Race After Technology

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.

Q&A with John Urschel

John Urschel, Member in the School of Mathematics, is an applied mathematician/theoretical computer scientist as well as a former professional football player, who spent three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Urschel retired from the NFL in 2017...

Solving the Mysteries of Deep Learning

Sanjeev Arora, Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics, specializes in the theory of deep learning, with an interest in natural language processing and privacy. He speaks with IAS's Joanne Lipman about why deep learning is a “black box,” and navigating ethical issues of bias and privacy.

Antiquities in the Dining Hall

Hanging on the walls of Simons Hall are four late antique mosaics. Their migration from the floors of private houses in a Near Eastern city under Roman rule to a research institute in North America is a story of affluence, oblivion, and rediscovery.