Activities in 2010-2011

From the Report for Academic Year 2010-2011
of the Institute for Advanced Study

PIET HUT's activities included both his astrophysics research and his responsibilities as the Head of the Program of Interdisciplinary Studies. The latter program had seventeen visitors, with durations of their visits ranging from days to months, in fields including mathematical physics, astrophysics, computer science, philosophy, science writing, bioinformatics, classical music, art history, and political economy.

During the year, Prof. Hut, together with colleagues Caroline Bynum and Helmut Hofer from the School of Mathematics, organized a series of After-Hour Conversations, which were held at IAS in Harry's Bar, two times a week for a period of two months during each semester. Each gettogether had a more formal part lasting thirty minutes, starting with a ten-minute talk by a speaker and followed by a twenty-minute period of questions. In addition, many participants would continue informal conversations afterward. These activities were widely seen as an effective way to encourage inter-School communication at IAS.

Prof. Hut spent part of the fall semester at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, where he visited their interdisciplinary program Hakubi, a promising new initiative bringing together researchers from all fields of natural science, social science and the humanities. He also co-organized an interdisciplinary applied mathematics seminar at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the same university. Following that, he visited the new supercomputer research institute in Kobe, Japan, in order to develop software for astrophysical simulations. Currently, their K computer is the fastest computer in the world, as of June 2011.

He also spent some time visiting Yamagata University, where he started a collaboration with Shigeru Taguchi, a specialist in Husserlian phenomenology, and the Nagahama Bio University, working with Hayato Saigo, whose field is applied mathematics. After introducing them to each other, Prof. Hut started a three-way collaboration with the aim to explore new mathematical structures for phenomenological philosophy.

As part of his ongoing research of virtual worlds, he explored OpenSim as well as Open Wonderland, two alternative environments in addition to the more established world of Second Life. Within the latter, he organized workshops and other regular meetings for the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA;, and for the Kira Institute (, focused on interdisciplinary collaborations.