We went out to the Institute for Advanced Study, at Princeton, the other weekend, to visit a philosopher friend who not long ago made the grade and to get some idea of what the place looks like. It looks fine. Our friend, like most of the Institute's temporary members, was living in a five-room miner's cottage, one of many the Institute bought up from a distressed mine and scattered around an open field near the main buildings. . . . While we were there, Toynbee was hidden in some stacks somewhere, and Einstein was out of town recuperating from his recent illness, but we saw Oppenheimer from a distance, apparently engaged in being wheedled out of a nickel by a small child. Under our friend's guidance, we peeked in on a dozen offices in one of the Institute's three red brick college buildings, and were introduced to several thinkers occupied with their labors.
. . . The only equipment we could see consisted of blackboards and scratch pads, and we learned that the Institute has no laboratory apparatus—all the scientists being too high-level for anything but mathematical operations—except the Calculator. We were taken to see this monster, whose face is a giant panel of buttons, knobs, dials, lights, and wires—like something in a mad-scientist movie.
Read more at the New Yorker.