At ten years old, the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics (SCGP) is a nascent institute in a time-honored tradition representing the fertile interaction between physics and mathematics over millennia. As such, the Center focuses on theoretical physics and geometry—both interpreted in a broad sense—that share mathematical tools and physical theories for insight and inspiration.
Recognizing the Center as one of a few institutions devoted specifically to the shared structures in these two arenas, we wanted to celebrate this decennary mark in time. Discussion transpired at the SCGP in 2018 on how to mark this event with something memorable. The Center wanted something special. That year—2018—actually marks the tenth year since the founding document was sealed in 2008. However we decided to recognize the building’s official opening in 2010. We all decided on a monumental book, which then became two books: one scientific and historic in a special edition 10th Anniversary Newsletter, and the second more lyrical or expressive. The latter book, Crossings, features photography and design by the celebrated documentary filmmakers Jean-François Dars and Anne Papillault, with an active participation in the final outlook by Art Director Lorraine Walsh, who also took care of administration and production.
The 25 authors, all of whom are faculty or affiliates of SCGP, were invited to write about their research, fields of study, their hopes, their dreams. In the invitation to participate, all were encouraged to write anything that allows the reader to approach the thoughts and dreams of a scientist investigating fundamental research in physics and mathematics. To that end, the contributor could potentially tell a tale relating to an important encounter in their careers, or they could remark upon their relationship within the scientific community–in how ideas are exchanged and how one participates. It could be an anecdote, a remembrance, a metaphor or a eureka moment. It could even be funny or heartbreaking. Essentially, the scientists were encouraged to avoid credential and biographical literature to speak in an authentic voice. And they did.
Shared here are stories about their science and revelations, often for the first time. Also included are several artists working at the intersection of science and art who hold the same wonderment, albeit with different creative results.