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

Mathematics: The Beauty of Abstraction

February 15, 2014, 12:00 AM

"What is it that distinguishes us from cavemen?" asks the mathematician Edward Frenkel. "I would say it’s the level of abstraction that we can reach."

Think about the evolution of money. The first agrarian societies may have used some form of credit system, but it is widely believed that barter was the first form of exchange. When currency was developed, humans began to trade goods for a coin or a piece of paper. According to Aristotle, the assignment of monetary value to an object was a great achievement in man's psychological capacity to place trust in each other. Then money, in the form of a piece of plastic - a credit card - became even more abstract. Now when we consider money, in the form of a line of code - Bitcoin - we are entering an entirely new level of abstraction. 

"Abstraction is king in this brave new world," Frenkel says, "and the key to abstraction is mathematics." Frenkel is the author of the new book Love & Math, and in the video below he argues that we will have a better and freer society when we have a greater understanding of math.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


Mathematics: The Beauty of ...

Newsletter: Share: