After Hours Conversations 2014-2015

October - November   2014   ;   February - March   2015

Freeman Dyson from fall 2013 - photo by Dan KomodaAfter 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.

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, October 6, 2014
Presentation by: Scott Tremaine, School of Natural Sciences
Title: The Odd Couple: Quasars and Black Holes
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, October 9, 2014
Presentation by: Michael Cole, School of Historical Studies
Title: Why Did Sculptors Draw?
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, October 13, 2014
Presentation by: Noga Alon, School of Mathematics
Title: Chaos and Order: Ramsey Theory in Mathematics and in Life
Host: Helmut Hofer

Thursday, October 16, 2014
Presentation by: Catherine Chung, Director's Visitor
Title: Storytelling: Mapping the Unknown
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, October 20, 2014
Presentation by: Maurizio Meloni, School of Social Science
Title: Is Human Biology Turning (Once Again) Local? Remaking Race and Class in a Postgenomic Time
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Presentation by: Danian Hu, School of Historical Studies
Title: Albert Einstein and his Relativity in China
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, October 27, 2014
Presentation by: Michel Reymond, Chef, Dining Services
Title: Your Food is Slowly Killing You: An Insider View on Food We Buy and Eat
Host: Helmut Hofer

Thursday, October 30, 2014
[ No meeting this day ]

Monday, November 3, 2014
Presentation by: Anver Emon, School of Social Science
Title: Islamic Law & International Law: The Case of International Child Abduction
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Presentation by: Amy Singer and Vlada Stankovic, School of Historical Studies
Title: Breaching Byzantine and Ottoman Walls in the Early 21st Century
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, November 10, 2014
Presentation by: Ana Pires, School of Mathematics
Title: Hospitality at the Hilbert Hotel: How Big is Infinity?
Host: Helmut Hofer

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Presentation by: Juan Maldacena, School of Natural Sciences
Title: How Do You Die When You Fall Into a Black Hole?
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, November 17, 2014
Presentation by: Edyta Bojanowska, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: From Turgenev to Nabokov: A Case of Literary Gene Expression
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, November 20, 2014
Presentation by: Wendy Swartz, School of Historical Studies
Title: The Spontaneous Craft of Tao Yuanming, China's Most Beloved Poet
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, November 24, 2014
Presentation by: Dani Rodrik, School of Social Science
Title: Will Globalization Kill Democracy -- Or the Other Way Around?
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, November 27, 2014
[ No meeting this day; IAS is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday ]

Second Semester

Monday, February 2, 2015
Presentation by: Gary Alan Fine, School of Social Science
Title: How Warren Harding Became the Worst American President: The Role of Reputational Entrepreneurs
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Presentation by: Nir Shaviv, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Capo di Tutti Capi: The Experience of a Physicist as the Head of the Israeli Faculty Unions
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, February 9, 2015
Presentation by: Eric Blackman, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Challenges of Mitigating Traumatic Brain Injury and Why Helmets Should be Fundamentally Redesigned
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Presentation by: Mark Baumgartner, Chief Investment Officer of IAS
Title: Turbulence in Physics and Financial Markets
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, February 16, 2015
[ no meeting this day; IAS is closed for President's Day]

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Presentation by: Timothy David Brandt, School of Natural Sciences
Title: How Old Are the Stars?
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, February 23, 2015
Presentation by: Geoffrey Allan Khan, School of Historical Studies
Title: How Endangered Are Human Languages?
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Presentation by: Angelos Chaniotis, School of Historical Studies
Title: How the Night Was Won: A very short history of the night in the Greek World
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, March 2, 2015
Presentation by: John Holmwood, School of Social Science
Title: The Neo-liberal University and Democratic Knowledge
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, March 5, 2015
[Due to snow storm, postponed until October 5, 2015]

Monday, March 9, 2015
Presentation by: Richard Ashby Wilson, School of Social Science
Title: Limiting Freedom of Speech
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Presentation by: Brian Connolly, School of Social Science
Title: Why Do We Still Prohibit Incest?
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, March 16, 2015
Presentation by: Stephen Harrison, School of Historical Studies
Title: From Rome to Hollywood: Fiction, history and classical reception
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, March 19, 2015
[ cancelled due to scheduling conflict with another IAS event ] 

Monday, March 23, 2015
Presentation by: Hugh Gusterson, School of Social Science
Title: How Do You Know a Nuclear Weapon Works If You Can't Test It, and What Would an Anthropologist Have to Say about That?
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Presentation by: Anandi Mani, School of Social Science
Title: It's Smart to Have Money -- but Does Money Make You Smarter?
Host: Didier Fassin

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