What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study


Although I’ve devoted my career to teaching entrepreneurship, I’ve been a physics fanatic ever since I was a precocious 11-year-old with an unusual gift for math and science. Today, I would probably have been diagnosed as being somewhere along the autism spectrum, but back then my gift was just considered a bit unique. Moving to Princeton last July fulfilled a lifelong dream in part because ever since childhood I’ve been fascinated with the bucolic

During the IAS Prospects in Theoretical Physics program. Photo credit: Dan Komoda

One of the first stored program computers was designed and built on the Institute’s campus with von Neumann architecture that greatly influenced the development of today’s computers, and formed the mathematical basis for computer software. The foundations of game theory, a powerful tool in economics, were laid in the School of Mathematics at the Institute, and research at the School of Natural Sciences has greatly advanced particle physics, including string theory and astrophysics.

The Institute for Advanced Study’s mission to support pure research makes it all the more admirable to me. I also believe that research done at the Institute for Advanced Study contributed significantly to American victories in both World War 2 and the Cold War, thereby saving civilization from totalitarianism and tyranny. Even John Nash–the Nobel Prize-winning economist portrayed in A Beautiful Mind who sadly passed away earlier this year–spent time in the 1950s and 1960s there. It is impossible to quantify the good this incredible place has done, and will continue to as it encourages and supports scientists from all over the world who come to Princeton to share ideas and collaborate. One key benefit to continued research into quantum physics, for example, is that it holds the potential to forever solve the world’s energy problems —> Read More