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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.

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Space Fantasies Meet Biological Realities

August 17, 2013, 12:00 AM

As we consider the prospect of space vacations (the 600th ticket was recently sold for Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo), luxury space hotelsspace colonies, and other commercial enterprises that will bring humans to space in the near future, we need to recognize that the biologists are as important as the engineers.

Not only do we need to physically get humans to space, we also need to keep them alive, or at the very least ensure that their lives aren't completely miserable. 

After all, human space travel today is a luxury experience. Supercouples like Brangelina and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher are paying big bucks. The idea of traveling to space may seem like fun right now, but few people will want to lay out $200,000 in the future if SpaceshipTwo's maiden voyage becomes the sub-orbital equivalent of the Carnival Cruise "poop cruise."

That's why at NASA "the waste management engineers are incredibly important to the entire mission," says Mary Roach. Roach is the author of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, a fascinating and humorous look at what happens to the human body in space.

In the video below, Roach describes how space explorers are basically sent back to kindergarten, having to re-learn how to go to the bathroom and how to eat.

Watch here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


Space Fantasies Meet Biolog...

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