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The Biggest Thinking of Summer 2011

As Summer 2011 draws to a close, we at Big Think are taking a look back at the most significant ideas presented on our site by Big Think experts. You, our viewers, voted with your clicks. Here are the results:

5. Nathan Myrhvold: These Chemicals Are Good For You (And Yummy)

Along with fellow chefs Chris Young and Maxime Bilet, Myhrvold recently published Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, a hefty six-volume 2,438-page set that aims to reinvent cooking through "science-inspired tech­niques for prepar­ing food."

To understand the science of cooking we must understand the basic building blocks we're working with. As Myhrvold tells Big Think, "Everything in life is made of elements and chemicals. Now, when people say chemicals" they think of some "artificial thing which is going to be bad for me."

Of course, some chemicals are bad for you. Likewise, many processed foods are unhealthy. As a result, some people might elect to put themselves on the so-called Caveman Diet, as Big Think has detailed here. On the other hand, Myhrvold argues that the common understanding of what is "natural" and what is "processed" is overly simplistic. For instance, muffins are made with baking soda, and there’s "no more processed foods in the world than bread, wine or cheese," Myhrvold says. In other words, these products are "completely unnatural." Watch the video here:

4. David Brooks: How to Think Your Way Out of a Bad Marriage

The New York Times columnist David Brooks told Big Think that there are numerous problems that can only be solved by emergent thinking. For instance, he writes, "We still try to address problems like poverty and Islamic extremism by trying to tease out individual causes. We might make more headway if we thought emergently." Another powerful example is marriage. How do you fix a troubled marriage? Brooks tells Big Think how emergent thinking is essential:

3. Tara Sophia Mohr: Fear is the Mind Killer

Your heart is pounding, your pupils are dilated, your palms are soaked with sweat. The adrenaline rush we all experience when our bodies go in to “fight or flight” mode is an asset if we’re up against a physical threat. In a recent interview, Big Think asked writer and consultant Tara Sophia Mohr, who counsels women in the social and business sectors, how to overcome fear. Watch here:

2. James Frey: The Truth Set Me Free

James Frey tells Big Think that "The Million Little Pieces" controversy with Oprah "really freed me to be as radical as I want, to break every rule I want, and to not have to care what other people thought." Watch the video here:

 

1. Dr. Michio Kaku: Living in a Post-Human World

Big Think reader Liam Stein asked Dr. Michio Kaku the question "How will the world look post-singularity? Can you walk us through a day in the life of a transhuman?" According to Dr. Kaku, the future will be a glorious place to live. "We will become the Gods that we once feared," he says. "We will, like Zeus, mentally control objects around us. Like Venus, we will have perfect bodies and ageless bodies." Watch here:

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