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July 4, 2012 marked the discovery of the Higgs Boson (also known as the "God Particle") after its prediction almost 50 years prior. With a ten-year retrospective, this talk tells the inside story of one of the most significant discoveries made by humanity ever. What is the Higgs Boson, and what is its role in our existence? How do we search for the…
 
Published on the occasion of the UAE's 50th anniversary, 50U tells the story of the UAE in 50 portraits of people, plants and places. Acclaimed royal photographer Ramesh Shukla, who took some of the most iconic photographs of the union of the seven emirates in the 1970s, and contemporary photographer Charlie Koolhaas, who was commissioned to shoot …
 
The wildly successful world premiere of Iranian-American Sanaz Toossi’s award-winning play and production English (2022) captivated audiences who had never before seen their story captured in live performance. Set in a TOEFL classroom in Karaj, Iran in 2008, English occurs during a period of political transformation resulting in travel restrictions…
 
We live in a world in which extremism is said to be on the rise. The 20th century was scarred by extremist movements and ideologies, and extremism continues to be a problem in the 21st century. But what exactly is extremism, and what is wrong with it? Martin Luther King Jr. famously asked whether we will be extremists for the preservation of injust…
 
Pandemic, war, rising oil prices, food shortages, … there is no uncertainty about how uncertain these times are. Yet, we have to make decisions at all scales—from individuals trying to decide how to financially invest to policy-makers trying to curb epidemics with sound public health interventions. Faced with many decision-making complexities, we l…
 
For almost eight centuries the Arabs dominated much of the territory of the Iberian Peninsula (711-1492 C.E.). They called that region al-Andalus and, although its territorial extension varied over the years, Arabic was its predominant language and Islam its majoritarian religion. Until the beginning of the 17th century, numerous Muslims or people …
 
This talk addresses the lasting legacies of past plagues, in particular the Black Death, because they continue to shape the way we think about new pandemics. We must recognize pandemics as long-term processes and shift our focus beyond epidemic episodes of disruption to better understand how past societies learned to live with diseases. The talk al…
 
Traveling from Canton to Lisbon and back via Aden and Jiddah, Hormuz and the Straights of Malaka, this talk connects China, India, and the Philippines and the 16th century Indian Ocean in a tale of espionage, adventure, war and religion.SpeakerZvi Ben-Dor Benite, Professor of History, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, NYU…
 
Recent research in the social sciences suggests that families’ past experiences of violence –notably, war and displacement – shape descendants’ preferences and behaviors for generations and influence economic, political, and social decisions within these families over decades and, at times, centuries. This talk provides an overview of the cutting-e…
 
Prophet Muhammad has made a prodigious impact on the history of the world and continues to impact the contemporary world. How exactly did he manage to make a difference, and why are his enlightening teachings still germane today? In answering these questions, this talk counteracts the centuries-long Christian polemics demonizing the prophet. It off…
 
Climate change is here—but it looks nothing like in the movies. Across the planet, the people most affected by natural disasters are somehow still living their lives, experiencing joy while undergoing hardship, thinking up new solutions for our warming world. In Lebanon, an unprecedented economic collapse is wreaking tragedy upon the country, but a…
 
Published in the year of the 50th anniversary of the confederation of the United Arab Emirates, 50U paints an intimate picture of life in the Emirates through the memories, hopes, and ambitions of its inhabitants. Factual accounts of the UAE’s history are told alongside human stories that are the result of extensive interviews with the young nation…
 
Current advances in AI are phenomenal. However, we are still in the beginning of the AI “Industrial Revolution.” We are creating the steam engines of AI that will become the airplanes of the future. Natural Language Processing has become indistinguishable from human speech, art creation has surpassed some of the most advanced artists, protein foldi…
 
By going deep underground and creating ultra-clean conditions, it is possible to produce the lowest radioactivity laboratory in the world. There we can address very fundamental questions about our Universe: How does the Sun burn? What are the abundant dark matter particles in the spaces between the stars? What are the properties of neutrinos, elusi…
 
Every part of existence is fueled by water. It supports the most important industries in society including the energy sector, agriculture, and transportation. Water resources are under increasing strain as the world’s population rises and the economy grows, resulting in decreased river flows, the loss of lakes and wetlands, and declining ground-wat…
 
This conversation with Adonis, the greatest living poet of the Arab world, focuses on questions regarding the intersection of visual art and poetry in theory and practice. This gathering is timed to coincide with the publication of a new English-language translation of a remarkable series of dialogues between Adonis and Syrian artist Fateh al-Mouda…
 
This talk highlights the vital role of innovation in boosting and enhancing the mechanism of scientific research in the UAE from various areas, including entrepreneurship and start-ups. How can we convert research and development into applied commercial projects with potential profits? This would help all society members contribute toward scientifi…
 
Great physics requires us to think outside the mainstream—to improvise and rely on intuition. This talk explores three principles that shape all theories of the universe—the principle of invariance, the quantum principle, and the principle of emergence—as well as some of physics' greatest mysteries, from what happened before the big bang to how the…
 
As humans, we have evolved and survived because we are curious and critical thinkers. How do these traits shape our lives and science, and lead us to understand the world around us? Epigenetics, a new area of science, is the weaving of our genetics and environment that shape who we are. This talk explores the impact of trauma and war on our bodies …
 
It is conventional wisdom that America and China are running a “superpower marathon” that may last a century. But the sharpest phase of that competition will be a decade-long sprint, and the moment of maximum danger could be just a few years away. America will still need a long-term strategy for competing with China. But first, it needs a near-term…
 
This conversation explores how communities connect with places of suffering, like former prisons that have been turned into museums—specifically Esma, the former clandestine center of Detention, Torture, and Extermination under Argentina’s Junta, and Robben Island, South Africa’s detention center for anti-Apartheid activists, including Nelson Mande…
 
In a famous painting, Paul Gauguin posed three fundamental questions about our place in the Universe: “What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?” A physicist interprets these questions as follows: “What are we made of? What happened early in the Universe? What is the future of the Universe?” Particle physicists are seeking scientific …
 
Quantum information theory has given us a new and interesting twist on the old problem of quantum gravity: the Universe as a Computation. As the computation proceeds, reality unfolds. Information theory allows us to study the behavior of a system without committing to a particular story about it, for example, the story of spacetime. We can go beyon…
 
Why do many consider al-Mutannabi the first Arab poet? Why is his poetry still pulsing with life, modernity, uniqueness, and Arabness as if it was written in the recent past? This conversation discusses Dr. Ali bin Tamim's personal experience with al-Mutannabi and the reasons behind his interest of al-Mutannabi's poetry. This special talk includes …
 
A roller coaster through cosmic time, this talk truncates the 13.7 billion years of life of our Universe into 60 minutes. Starting from a very hot cosmic soup, the Universe evolved from tiny initial perturbations to the large variety of structures we can observe today. The talk also explores the biggest mystery in modern physics: the dark side of t…
 
Rates of depression, anxiety, and self-harm are far higher for those in Gen Z (born after 1996) than any previous generation, including the Millennials. Employers report that Gen Z employees are often more fragile and lacking in life-skills. This talk explores three terrible ideas, interacting with new technology, that have weakened Gen Z, and disc…
 
This talk discusses the role of place in diasporic literature and the universality of women's voices. Who can speak for whom? What role do distance and diasporic privilege play? Does nostalgia take on dangerous potential, and does it really matter if writing is about the confluence of one's imagination and memory?SpeakersSaba Khan, Author, "Skyfall…
 
With the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, many may remember the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001. Since then, Afghans in the culture sector have established many cultural heritage development initiatives, which highlight the country’s diverse regional identities. Although heritage might not seem to be the highest priority du…
 
Paper, perhaps the most common manufactured item in everyday use, was invented in China over 2,000 years ago. One thousand years later, Muslims learned of it after they conquered Central Asia in the early eighth century. They quickly carried it and the techniques of manufacturing it across Eurasia and Northern Africa to the shores of the Atlantic. …
 
The five days between November 28 and December 2, 1971 saw Abu Dhabi mark the fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed as Ruler, an invasion by Iran, and a never-to-be-forgotten appearance by the Star of the East herself—Umm Kulthum. This talk reflects on this period of celebration, turmoil, and anticipation.SpeakerJames Langton, Journalist, Writer & Edit…
 
This talk explores the collaborative research efforts to produce “Building Sharjah,” the first book--not only in the UAE but in the region--to document the history of a Gulf city. The panelists share the driving force behind the book and describe the journey of documenting the rise of the city through stories from its citizens, residents, and immig…
 
Western paradigms of history about East and West, North and South, have enjoyed a privileged position in the global marketplace of ideas. However, the long-term rise of China and India, together with cultural discourses of regionalism in West Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, is fundamentally altering this situation. Non-Western countries are increasing…
 
As population and pollution increase, humans are looking at high frontiers. Potential benefits of extraterrestrial mining are immense. For example, NASA has identified an asteroid, 16 Psyche, to be worth more than 10,000 quadrillion dollars, while the economy of our planet is about 80 trillion dollars. But there are also challenges, including: mini…
 
To develop fundamentally new laws of nature, theoretical physicists often rely on arguments from beauty. Simplicity and naturalness in particular have been strongly influential guides in the foundations of physics ever since the development of the standard model of particle physics. This talk demonstrates that arguments from beauty have led the fie…
 
Sujatha Gidla, the author of Ants Among Elephants:An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, in conversation with Toral Gajarawala, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at NYU, about caste, class and race, and their relationship to rights, violence and writing. SpeakersSujatha Gidla, Author, "Ants Among Elephants: An…
 
Lawrence Abu Hamdan presents "Natq," a live audiovisual essay on the politics and possibilities of reincarnation. Through listening closely to “xenoglossy” (the impossible speech of reincarnated subjects), this performance explores a collectivity of lives who use reincarnation to negotiate their condition at the threshold of the law—people for whom…
 
By the start of 2018, 25 million refugees fled across international borders to seek protection. Over half of these refugees are under the age of 18. Little rigorous evidence exists on strategies to promote refugee children’s academic learning and socio-emotional development. What role can universities play in helping to close this critical gap in e…
 
Recent earthquakes, ranging from Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the pandemic, have terminated the role that the United States and its Western allies assumed after 1945 as political teachers and role models to the rest of the world. This talk discusses the likely consequences of this epochal transformation.SpeakersPankaj Mishra, Literary…
 
How do architectural design and users’ practices inform the creation of social space? In which spaces and through which modalities do people come together and “make” space in a city as diverse as Abu Dhabi? How are these processes approached by various disciplines—from architecture and urban design to the social sciences and the arts? This talk bri…
 
The making of citizens in and through music is a 19th-century commonplace. But the ground of this longstanding musicological discussion has shifted with globalization, mobility, and the parlous condition of nation and state today. What does it now mean to label a musician an “ideal citizen”? This talk looks at the question of musical “multi-citizen…
 
The Thousand and One Nights has been fueling the imagination and craft of storytellers since the 18th century. This conversation between two winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award traces the returns and afterlives of the Nights until today, and discusses why these tales continue to inspire and affect the stories of writers from all over the globe.S…
 
The UAE has built an instrumental ecosystem of research around the local, governmental, and independent academic institutions, research and technology industrial organizations, and scientific innovation parks, among others. This talk discusses current efforts to improve research and development infrastructure, expand its capacity, and influence imp…
 
Women and women's sport are playing a growing role in promoting equality and cooperation across business and society in the Middle East. From the grassroots level to professional ranks, sport is being used to break down barriers, unite people, and contribute to a tolerant and diverse society. Why does sport--and the rising prominence of women's spo…
 
The Sun generates huge magnetic storms with some regularity and streams billions of tons of charged particles. These storms are supposed to reach their peak activity in 2025. With it comes the likelihood of large impact on the Earth, with potential damage to our communications systems and power grids, causing enormous strife and financial loss. We …
 
With all eyes on the Middle East, global leaders have recognized that science diplomacy is an extremely important mechanism for working toward stability in the region. This talk introduces the Malta Conferences Foundation’s “Frontiers of Science: Innovation, Research, and Education in the Middle East” series which brings together representatives fr…
 
Grace Aneiza Ali’s recently-published Liminal Spaces: Migration and Women of the Guyanese Diaspora (OpenBook Publishers) is an intimate exploration into the art and migration narratives of 15 women of Guyanese heritage. In this talk, Ali expands on the book’s four-part journey tracing the migration path of Guyanese women from their moment of depart…
 
At a moment when we are confronted by the changing nature and conditions of borders and borderlands, can the performing arts serve as a catalyst for (re)imagining current border logics, shaped not only by long-standing territorial and political disputes but also by the effects of globalization? This panel engages with the meaning of borders not onl…
 
According to surveys conducted by Gallup, 750 million people would migrate to another country if they could. This talk explores how migration on this scale is impossible under existing laws and international agreements. Discussions about new political arrangements that could accommodate this many migrants typically presume that they will support (i…
 
November 8, 2020In 2019 it was estimated that more than 20 billion internet-of-things (IoT) devices were active around the world. This includes all computational devices capable of holding and processing personal data, such as smartphones, fitness trackers, smart bulbs, cleaning robots, etc. The wealth of data collected and processed by IoT devices…
 
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