The Institute Letter Fall 2017

Includes a variety of articles by Faculty and Members exploring human rights issues in China, the black hole firewall paradox, Syriac literature, the carceral condition, monotheism, Christianity and Islam in early modern Spain, genetics and identity, mirror symmetry, liquid crystals, and American foreign policy. 

From the Chinese Revolution of 1911 to the May 19 Movement of 1957, from the Xidan Democracy Wall of 1978 to the Democracy Movement in 1989, Chinese people have never ceased in their struggle for democracy. When the Tiananmen Massacre shocked the...

In 2012, Ahmed Almheiri, current Member in the School of Natural Sciences, coauthored a paper that confounded theoretical physicists, sparked attention from the New York Times to Scientific...

Presented by its promoters two and a half centuries ago as a moral progress in the administration of punishment, prison has become over the past decades one of the most vexing and unsettling issues in Western societies for both the spectacular...

We are probably all familiar with the AncestryDNA advertisement for its genetic testing service in which a man states that he and his family had...

An arcane topic to most people, Syriac sources help shed a more complex light on the history of the Middle East from late antiquity to the Middle Ages. They reveal a non-imperial epoch and its rich contributions to the cultural and religious...

Monotheism constitutes one of the central doctrines of Islam. The notion is again and again voiced in the Qurʾān, thus for example in sūra 112 (entitled “Sincere Religion”) which, in the translation of Arthur Arberry, reads “Say...

Geometry and physics have long gone hand in hand. All around us, physical processes play out in geometric terms, such as straight lines (rays of light), ellipses (planetary motion), or...

Liquid crystals, discovered serendipitously by Friedrich Reinitzer in the late nineteenth century, have come to play an important role in the world of consumer electronics, specifically in the production of ever larger, thinner, and more energy-...

Just before Thanksgiving last year, I sent an email to the Institute’s Director, Robbert Dijkgraaf, whom I had never met. Acknowledging that my missive was somewhat “out of the blue,” I explained that I had spent most of the previous eight years...

To outsiders, the contentiousness, divisiveness, and downright un-neighborliness evident in the small Spanish town of Deza by the autumn of 1607 might well have seemed a tempest in a teapot. Those living in the newer Upper Neighborhood had been...