The Institute Letter Summer 2016

Includes a variety of articles by Faculty and Members exploring the intersection of gender and religious freedom, the difficulties of gravitational-wave detection, the revolution of nineteenth-century print culture in Iran, and the evolution of contact and symplectic geometry. 

 

When Fang Lizhi, one of China’s most distinguished scientists, began in 1986 to talk to his students about the “universal rights” of human beings, he knew the risks. In those days, the use of the term “rights” in China was highly sensitive,...

© TATE, LONDON 2015/© 2016 ESTATE OF PAUL DELVAUX/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

This is a book about a phenomenon I call The Lament That Shame Is DeadThe Lament is a nostalgic story of an imagined past that represents a longing for a mythical place and time when shame secured and regulated social life. It...

Although the maqāma is less familiar to Western readers than the fantastic tales of the Arabian Nights, which achieved their prominence as a result of Antoine Galland’s eighteenth-century French translation, the maqāma...

This book was written when I spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study. It is hard to imagine an environment that is more stimulating or more congenial to writing. Many colleagues at the Institute helped shape my thinking, but six...

Russian spies held a morbid fascination in the minds of Americans dating back to the Red Scare in 1919, following the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of the Communist International, of which the Communist Party of the USA became a...

Of the thousands of children and young adults who fled Nazi Germany in the years before the Second World War, a remarkable number went on to become trained historians in their adopted homelands. The following are excerpts from The Second...

The official French preoccupation with the veil exceeds that of most other countries in Western Europe. In the Anglo-American world, even post-9/11, the veil is not seen as the flag of an insurrection; nor is the suppression of ethnic, racial,...

During the 2015-16 academic year, the School of Mathematics hosted a program on the topic of geometric structures in three dimensions. This article is an adaptation of a talk I gave in fall 2015, as part of the School's biweekly "Mathematical...

This therefore, is mathematics: she reminds you of the invisible forms of the soul; she gives light to her own discoveries; she awakens the mind and purifies the intellect; she brings light to our intrinsic ideas; she abolishes oblivion and...

Edward Nelson, Member in the Schools of Mathematics (1956–59, 79–80) and Natural Sciences (1963–64, 67–68, 73–74) and Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University until his death in 2014, was an original thinker best known...

When leading church elders posted the wedding banns on the church doors in Cornwall, Connecticut, in the summer of 1825, all hell broke loose. The banns proclaimed that Harriett Gold, a nineteen-year-old white woman, was to marry Elias Boudinot,...

On September 14, 2015, the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) observed a gravitational-wave signal from the merger of a pair of black holes. While this impressive technological triumph was celebrated...

Symplectic and contact structures first arose in the study of classical mechanical systems, allowing one to describe the time evolution of both simple and complex systems such as springs, planetary motion, and wave propagation. Understanding the evolution and distinguishing transformations of these systems led to the development of global invariants of symplectic and contact manifolds.

Of the thousands of children and young adults who fled Nazi Germany in the years before the Second World War, a remarkable number went on to become trained historians in their adopted homelands. By placing autobiographical testimonies alongside...

In March 1882, Iran’s newspaper readers encountered an unprecedented editorial appeal:

You, the learned of the country, who consider yourselves devoted to the progress of the country and the nation: why have you chosen...