“Our whole education is a process of confrontation between our imagination and the reality of established facts,” says Institute Director and Leon Levy Professor
Robbert Dijkgraaf. “I think the greatest scientists have such an intense curiosity that they’re not discouraged by the current practice of the field and they push the boundaries of knowledge.”
“We feel strongly that the spirit characteristic of America at its noblest, above all the pursuit of higher learning, cannot admit of any conditions as to personnel other than those designed to promote the objects for which this institution is established, and particularly with no regard whatever to accidents of race, creed, or sex.”
I sometimes like to think about what it might be like inside a black hole. What does that even mean? Is it really “like” anything inside a black hole? Nature keeps us from ever knowing. But
mathematics and physics make some predictions.
The only major branch of modern mathematics that wasn’t anticipated by the ancient mathematicians, topology has been regarded as strictly abstract mathematics throughout most of its history. However, illustrating Wigner’s principle of “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences,” topology is now beginning to come up in our understanding of many different real-world phenomena.
"A lot of the time when you do math, you're stuck. But at the same time, there are all these moments where you feel privileged that you get to work with it. And you have this sensation of transcendence. You feel like you've been part of something really meaningful," says 2018 Fields Medalist and IAS Professor
Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist George F. Will observes in the
Washington Post that
The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge by IAS founding Director Abraham Flexner and current Director Robbert Dijkgraaf “read in the right government places, might inoculate the nation against philistine utilitarianism.”
Writing for the
New York Times, IAS Member
Michael Kazin recalls the civil strife surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention, arguing that the cultural, social, and political divisions of that period have largely endured over the last 50 years.