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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.

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Unplugged: Why Does Time Slow Down When We Are on Vacation?

August 16, 2010, 6:50 PM

My fiancee and I are lucky to be able to vacation in her hometown of Maine.  When we travel there, we often remark how relaxing it is to literally unplug from the frenetic pace of our professional and personal lives in the Beltway: no cell phone, no texting, no email, no television.  Without exception we return to DC refreshed, focused, the patterns of our thoughts and attention changed, life feeling slower.

One of the most exciting areas of research over the past decade is in the area of attention and focus.  It's one of the topics I will be tracking at Age of Engagement particularly as it relates to our ever escalating appetite for media multi-tasking. And its a topic I will be discussing in my courses this semester, reporting back on the insights and thoughts of students.

At the New York Times yesterday, reporter Matt Richtel ponders these questions, particularly the ability of experience in nature to relax and heal the mind.  In his feature, he profiles a group of leading neuroscientists as they attempt to unplug from their fast-paced research lives and take a canoe trip down the Glen Canyon in Utah. Among the bunch, there are both believers and skeptics about the evidence for the restorative power of an unplugged vacation and exactly just how damaging multi-tasking might be. 

The article is worth a slow, thoughtful read. Take your time and reflect on the role of attention in your life. Then wand over the picture at top.  Richtel introduces the story in a video interview and then in a 360 panorama, you can wand over each of the scientists and listen to their goals for the trip and outlook on attention and health.


Unplugged: Why Does Time Sl...

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