The Institute Letter Fall 2023

Discover how the curious and collaborative nature of the Institute led to a breakthrough in the world of immuno-oncology. Dive into magic of cinema with insights into the on-campus filming of Oppenheimer. Walk a rewarding bridge between plasma physics and galactic dynamics. Glory in the beauty of the Institute Woods with a poetic reflection on its legacy as a “laboratory.” Explore how the scholarship of new Faculty appointee Maria H. Loh grafts new stems onto the work of past IAS art historians. Join an archival journey to discover the Institute’s earliest Chinese scholars. Dream of the good life with a new book from the Reading List. Read the latest news of the IAS community; Director David Nirenberg’s thoughts on past Director J. Robert Oppenheimer; and his welcome remarks to the community as another academic year begins.

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The work of plasma fusion physicists may seem completely divorced from the realm of theoretical astrophysics, but, as Chris Hamilton, John N. Bahcall Fellow in the School of Natural Sciences, explains, the mathematical methods developed to exploit the power of the electrons, ions, and magnetic fields in fusion plasmas are precisely the same as those needed to describe the dynamics of stars, spiral arms, and dark matter in galaxies like the Milky Way. 

Predicting thousands of years of forest growth with just an afternoon of fieldwork and a simple calculator might seem like an impossible task, but Jonathan Levine, Chair of Princeton’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, who runs annual classes in “Forest Succession” in the Institute Woods, enables his students to achieve precisely this.

April 2022 saw Hollywood come to the Institute as filming for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer biopic took place on campus. This article, featuring comments from Members and Visitors across all four IAS Schools, provides insight into what it was like to share the campus with the production team and highlights our community's reactions to the film.