After Hours Conversations 2013-2014

September - November   2013   ;   February - March   2014

Tom Phillips speaking - photo by Bentley DreznerAfter Hours Conversations is a program of informal meetings that are held at Harry's Bar in the upper level of Simons Hall, from 5:00 pm till 7:00 pm, on Mondays and Thursdays, in October and November and again in February and March (here are some quotations).

These talks are open to faculty, members, visitors, staff, spouses, and partners in an effort to encourage cross-discipline communication at IAS. The sessions will be moderated by Piet Hut, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies; Didier Fassin, School of Social Science; Patrick Geary, School of Historical Studies; and Helmut Hofer, School of Mathematics.

The format is as follows. At 5:30 pm, someone will give an informal presentation of no more than 10 minutes, intended for a general audience. The topic will be a brief description of a major open  problem in his or her field, together with suggestions for possible future progress with respect to that problem. This talk will be followed by 20 minutes of discussion, until 6:00 pm. During the remaining hour, everyone is free to mingle in more general discussions, preferably with others not from their own School.

If anyone would like to volunteer for giving a talk, please send an email to Piet Hut (, Didier Fassin (, Patrick Geary (, or Helmut Hofer (

To receive announcements of upcoming talks by email, contact Dawn Dunbar (

Note that in Harry's Bar all beverages including bottled water must be purchased with an IAS card. If you would like to purchase a drink, it would be best to arrive around 5:15, to allow the line at the bar to be processed before the start of the talk. Thank you for your cooperation.

Here is the list of speakers for the 10-minute presentations:

First Semester

Monday, September 30, 2013
Presentation by: Piet Hut, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: Origins of Life
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, October 3, 2013
Presentation by: Nicola Di Cosmo, School of Historical Studies
Title: The Ecology of Genghis Khan
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, October 7, 2013
Presentation by: Sebastian Currier, Artist-in-Residence
Title: Parallel Worlds
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Presentation by: John Padgett, School of Social Science
Title: Autocatalysis in History
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, October 14, 2013
Presentation by: Kim Scheppele, School of Historical Studies / School of Social Science
Title: Terrorism and the World-Wide Web of Interdiction
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, October 17, 2013
Presentation by: Siobhan Roberts, Director's Visitor
Title: Geometry and the Imagination
Host: Helmut Hofer

Monday, October 21, 2013
Presentation by: Monica Green, School of Historical Studies
Title: Scales of Time and Space in Global Health: Getting Historians and Geneticists on the Same Page
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, October 24, 2013
Presentation by: Nickolas Barris, Director's Visitor
Title: Why Our Civilization Would be More Advanced if Scientists Ran Our Hollywood Studios
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, October 28, 2013
Presentation by: Deborah Tor, School of Historical Studies
Title: What Difference Did the Seljuqs Make? The Significance of the Great Seljuq Dynasty in World History
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, October 31, 2013
[ No Meeting This Day; Halloween ] 

Monday, November 4, 2013
Presentation by: Freeman Dyson, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Experiments on Magnetic Perception in Humans
Host: Helmut Hofer

Thursday, November 7, 2013
Presentation by: Nigel Goldenfeld, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: Life is Chemistry. True or False?
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, November 11, 2013
Presentation by: Wendy Griswold, School of Social Science
Title: The Death of Reading (Stop Worrying)
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Presentation by: Edwin L. Turner, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: Reasons to Think We Are Forever Utterly Alone in the Universe
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, November 18, 2013
Presentation by: Ralph Kaufmann, School of Mathematics
Title: Beauty or Truth: What Can Mathematical Language Do for You? 
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Presentation by: Jürg Fröhlich, School of Mathematics
Title: The Many Worlds (Interpretation) of IAS
Host: Helmut Hofer

Monday, November 25, 2013
Presentation by: Ann McGrath, School of Social Science
Title: Time in History, Time in Physics
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, November 28, 2013
[ No meeting this day; IAS is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday ]

Second Semester

Monday, February 3, 2014
[Due to snow storm, postponed until March 17]

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Presentation by: Inna Zakharevich, School of Mathematics
Title: Finding Structure in Disorder: Invariants
Host: Helmut Hofer

Monday, February 10, 2014
Presentation by: Richard York, School of Social Science
Title: Why Petroleum Did Not Save the Whales: An Example of the Displacement Paradox
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, February 13, 2014
[Due to snow storm, postponed until February 27]

Monday, February 17, 2014
[ no meeting this day; IAS is closed for President's Day]

Thursday, February 20, 2014
Presentation by: Walter Fontana, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: Evolvability
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, February 24, 2014
Presentation by: Nitsan Chorev, School of Social Science
Title: Foreign Aid in East Africa
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, February 27, 2014
Presentation by: David Jaeger, Professor of Economics, CUNY Graduate Center
Title: Causality and the Burden of Proof: An Empirical Economist's View
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, March 3, 2014
Presentation by: Christopher Hamlin, School of Historical Studies
Title: The Problem of Interdisciplinary Epistemology: Two Cautionary Tales from the Prehistory of the Enterprise
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, March 6, 2014
Presentation by: David Grazian, School of Social Science
Title: Who Belongs in the Zoo? Field Observations from the Urban Jungle
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, March 10, 2014
Presentation by: Naphtali S. Meshel, School of Historical Studies
Title: The Grammar of Sacrifice and the Sacrifice of Grammar
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Presentation by: Pia de Jong, Author
Title: Finding Your Voice in Another Language
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, March 17, 2014
Presentation by: Barbara B. Walker, School of Historical Studies
Title: Mathematical Anecdotes and Their Cultural Meanings
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Presentation by: David Spivak, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: Category Theory -- A Formal and Flexible Interdisciplinary Language
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, March 24, 2014
Presentation by: Anna Elena Torres, Ph.D. Candidate in Yiddish Literature, University of California, Berkeley
Title: In Search of the Yiddish Troubadours
Host: Patrick Geary