Lectures by Faculty

Picasso and Abstraction: Encounters and Avoidance

Yve-Alain Bois
Professor, School of Historical Studies
April 6, 2016
Pablo Picasso did not speak often about abstraction, but when he did, it was either to dismiss it as complacent decoration or to declare its very notion an oxymoron. The root of this hostility is to be found in the impasse that the artist reached in the summer 1910, when abstraction suddenly appeared as the logical development of his previous work, a possibility at which he recoiled in horror. But though he swore to never go again near abstraction, he could not prevent himself from testing his resolve from time to time.

The New Era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

February 19, 2016
Join Matias Zaldarriaga, Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, Scott Tremaine, Richard Black Professor in the School, and Members Doron Kushnir and Nadia Zakamska for a discussion of the recent Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) results and their implications. The panel discussion will be moderated by Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor.

Modern Cosmology and the Origin of the Universe

Matias Zaldarriaga
Institute for Advanced Study
February 11, 2015
The last decades have seen great advances
in our understanding of the history of our
universe. I will summarize our current
knowledge, describe some of the puzzles
that still remain and speculate about future
developments in cosmology.
Matias Zaldarriaga has made many influential
and creative contributions to our understanding of the
early universe, particle astrophysics, and cosmology
As a probe of fundamental physics. Much of his work
centers on understanding the clues about the earliest

Remembering Patricia Crone (1945–2015)

Diana Frank, Thomas Frank, Michael Cook, Judith Herrin, Carol Bakhos, Emma Gannagé, Carmela V. Franklin, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Nicola Di Cosmo
October 24, 2015

Patricia Crone, Professor Emerita in the School of Historical Studies, helped to establish the Institute as a recognized center for the pursuit of Islamic culture and history. Crone’s insightful work shed important new light on the critical importance of the Near East—in particular on the cultural, religious, and intellectual history of Islam—in historical studies.

Is the Abstract Mathematics of Topology Applicable to the Real World?

Robert D. MacPherson; Randall D. Kamien; Raúl Rabadán
Hermann Weyl Professor, School of Mathematics; University of Pennsylvania; Columbia University
May 1, 2015
Topology is the only major branch of modern mathematics that wasn't anticipated by the ancient mathematicians. Throughout most of its history, topology has been regarded as strictly abstract mathematics, without applications. 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.