After Hours Conversations 2016-2017

October - November   2016   ;   February - March   2017

Catherine Chung's during her AHC talk, After 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; Yve-Alain Bois, School of Historical 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 (, Yve-Alain Bois (, 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 3, 2016
Presentation by: Matias Zaldarriaga, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Colliding Black Holes Briefly Outshine the Whole Visible Universe
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, October 6, 2016
[ No meeting this day ]

Monday, October 10, 2016
Presentation by:  Jane Hathaway, School of Historical Studies
Title: The Chief Harem Eunuch of the Ottoman Empire: The Most Powerful Person You Never Heard Of
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, October 13, 2016
Presentation by: Ruha Benjamin, School of Social Science
Title:  Are Robots Racist?
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, October 17, 2016
Presentation by: Nicolaas Rupke, School of Historical Studies
Title: Gauss' Brain
Host: Helmut Hofer

Thursday, October 20, 2016
Presentation by: Helmut Zander, School of Historical Studies
Title: Universalism - a Western Invention? The Troubles with Religious Liberty
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, October 24, 2016
Presentation by: Sanjay Jain, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Autocatalytic Set: The mother of organization
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Presentation by: Robert Goulding, School of Historical Studies
Title:  From Crystals to Prisms: Making a scientific instrument in the sixteenth century
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, October 31, 2016
Presentation by: Avi Wigderson, School of Mathematics
Title:  Finding Hay in a Haystack
Host: Helmut Hofer

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Presentation by: Andrew Dilts, School of Social Science
Title:  Racism in the Ballot? The Right to Vote and Felon Disenfranchisement
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, November 7, 2016
Presentation by: Siobhan Roberts, Director's Visitor
Title:  The Fatal Attraction of Mathematicians (A Writer's Perspective)
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Presentation by: Pascal Marichalar, School of Social Science
Title:  How to Get Away with Killing Workers
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, November 14, 2016
Presentation by: Daniel J. Sherman, School of Historical Studies
Title:  Why Should We Care about Cultural Heritage?
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, November 17, 2016
Presentation by: Todd Brun, School of Natural Sciences
Title:  Computing with Time Machines
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, November 21, 2016
Presentation by: Priscilla Roberts, School of Historical Studies
Title:  The Forgotten Director: Frank Aydelotte and the Institute for Advanced Study, 1939-1947
Host: Patrick Geary

Thursday, November 24, 2016
[ No meeting this day; IAS is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday ]

Monday, November 28, 2016
Presentation by: Aron Wall, School of Natural Sciences
Title:  Why Are the Laws of Physics Tuned to Permit Life?
Host: Piet Hut

Second Semester

Thursday, February 2, 2017
Presentation by: Despina Stratigakos, School of Historical Studies
Title: How the Nazis Reinvented the Führer Through His Domestic Spaces
Host: Yve-Alain Bois

Monday, February 6, 2017
Presentation by: Nick Cheesman, School of Social Science
Title: The Trouble with Law and Order
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, February 9, 2017
[Due to snow, postponed until March 16, 2017]

Monday, February 13, 2017
Presentation by: Nima Arkani-Hamed, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Why is Fundamental Physics Hard?
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, February 16, 2017
Presentation by: Roland Betancourt, School of Historical Studies
Title: Touching Seeing: Sight, Tactility, and Imagination in Byzantium
Host: Yve-Alain Bois

Monday, February 20, 2017
[ no meeting this day; IAS is closed for President's Day]

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Presentation by: Lalaie Ameeriar, School of Social Science
Title: Is Multiculturalism (Still) Bad for Women?
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, February 27, 2017
Presentation by: Daniel R. Grayson, School of Mathematics
Title: An Alternative Foundation for Mathematics
Host: Piet Hut

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Presentation by: Teng Biao, School of Social Science
Title: Will China Democratize?
Host: Didier Fassin

Monday, March 6, 2017
Presentation by: Giuliano Mori, School of Historical Studies
Title: Truth, Untruth, and Falsehood: Conceptual Overlaps and Their Cultural Consequences
Host: Yve-Alain Bois

Thursday, March 9, 2017
Presentation by: Angelos Chaniotis, School of Historical Studies
Title: The Illusionists: Hellenistic Kings and American Presidents
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, March 13, 2017
[ no meeting this day, because of a scheduling conflict ]

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Presentation by: Elisabeth Kaske, School of Historical Studies
Title: Why China Lost the Opium War
Host: Patrick Geary

Monday, March 20, 2017
Presentation by: Jonathan Morduch, School of Social Science
Title: Our Hidden Inequality: How Risk Has Shifted onto America's Families
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Presentation by: Brian Cantwell Smith, Program in Interdisciplinary Studies
Title: Matter Meets Mattering: Relations Among the Linguistic, Logical and Physical Realms
Host: Piet Hut

Monday, March 27, 2017
Presentation by: Bernard Harcourt, School of Social Science
Title: Randomizing Justice
Host: Didier Fassin

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Presentation by: Kunihiko Kaneko, School of Natural Sciences
Title: Universal Biology?
Host: Piet Hut