What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

To Understand the Scale of Space, We Turn to Art

July 9, 2013, 10:43 AM

It is difficult to gain an accurate perspective on the distance between the planets in our solar system because they are separated by such great distances. 

In a previous post, we pointed to a humorous and insightful demonstration by Bill Nye, in which the cycling scientist rode his bike along a highway to demonstrate the vastness of the solar system, and how difficult it is to gauge the size of each planet at this scale. For instance, after riding half a kilometer, Nye showed just how far Jupiter is from the Sun, and how its size in this model is equivalent to a baseball. 

Nye's demonstration shows why you can't make an accurate model of the solar system in which all of the planets are visible to the naked eye at once. The distance is too great and the planets would appear too small to see. 

An alternative take on this perspective can be found in the artwork of Ron Miller, who has painted the planets as if they were the same distance from Earth as the Moon, in order to demonstrate their size. 

For instance, the image at the top of this post depicts Saturn at 240,000 miles from Earth. 

Miller is the former art director for the National Air and Space Museum's Albert Einstein Planetarium, and his work can be found here


To Understand the Scale of ...

Newsletter: Share: