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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.

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

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IdeaFeed Posts

Big ideas in the news from around the web

IdeaFeed

What Is Beauty?

Missing
about 4 years ago

The Financial Times appeals to an Oxford philosophy professor to find the essence of beauty. Darwin said it was sex. For Estée Lauder, it was glamor. But what does beauty mean today? "'Beauty,' wrote Umberto Eco in his study of European aesthetics On Beauty, 'has never been absolute and immutable ...

IdeaFeed

Fear Versus Democracy

Missing
about 4 years ago

"What happens to our civic life when we're all too scared to participate?" asks Slate. Expert witnesses have recently refused to testify in court, fearing reprisal for divulging their political views. "Expressing one's opinions requires political bravery, and our systems of governance will not ...

IdeaFeed

The Science of Vacation

Missing
about 4 years ago

As summer is upon us, what does psychological research tell us about how we spend our leisure time? The answers could provide for a more enjoyable vacation in the coming months. "Even asking the question of how to 'optimize' a vacation seems fundamentally un-vacation-like. And yet people constantly ...

IdeaFeed

Necessary Financial Reform

Missing
about 4 years ago

"The nature and depth of the financial crisis is forcing us to reconsider some of the basic tenets of financial theory," says Paul Volcker who maps his ideas for reform in The NY Review of Books. "Restoring our fiscal position, dealing with Social Security and health care obligations in a ...

IdeaFeed

Do Muslims Want Democracy?

Missing
about 4 years ago

The New Statesman ruminates on what democracy might look like in an Islamic republic, what Eastern countries are tending that way, and why the West must make tough compromises. "As the distinguished scholar Olivier Roy put it in an essay for the American Social Science Research Council: 'The ...

IdeaFeed

Tax Carbon Now

Missing
about 4 years ago

"When something is free, you tend to use more of it. It's true for buffets and open bars, and it's the same with carbon," says The Atlantic while advocating for a carbon tax to slow global warming. "Today producers and consumers can burn coal and drive gas-guzzlers without fully paying for their ...

IdeaFeed

Human Genome Revolution

Missing
about 4 years ago

Ten years after sequencing the entire human genome, some call the achievement a false start; The Economist calls it only the beginning of a marathon that has begun to revolutionize biology. "Finding the sequence—even the full range of sequences—is, though, just the beginning. You then have to do ...

IdeaFeed

Hockney Retrospective

Missing
about 4 years ago

Art critic Karen Wright charts her run-ins with English painter David Hockney over the last ten years. The prolific painter has taken to photography and even drawing on his iPhone. "Hockney’s ideas are infectious: he expects the visitor to engage with them. He gives the girls a small concave mirror ...

IdeaFeed

Orangutan Body Language

Missing
about 4 years ago

For the first time, researchers have cataloged forty distinct signals orangutans use to communicate with each other, including gestures for "I want to play" and "Give it to me". "British scientists who spent nine months observing the great apes in three European zoos identified 40 frequently used ...

IdeaFeed

Deeper Than Deepwater Horizon

Missing
about 4 years ago

Naomi Klein takes stock of the Gulf oil spill and finds a deeper meaning beneath mechanical failure on Deepwater Horizon: America's cultural hubris in thinking it can control Nature. "This Gulf coast crisis is about many things – corruption, deregulation, the addiction to fossil fuels. But ...

IdeaFeed

Could Oil Be Green Energy?

Missing
about 4 years ago

"As counterintuitive as it may be to say so, oil is a green fuel, while 'green' fuels aren't," says Jonah Goldberg, who makes a sobering and conservative assessment of America's need for black gold. "If you remove the argument over climate change from the equation, one thing becomes incandescently ...

IdeaFeed

The Military's Artificial Intelligence

Missing
about 4 years ago

Miller-McCune reports that, "Using artificial intelligence and the graphics techniques behind 'Avatar,' a USC institute creates 'virtual humans' and interactive immersions that train American soldiers...Most of the institute’s funding comes from the Army; in bureaucratese, it’s a university ...

IdeaFeed

Post-Minority Report

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Reality is already outpacing 'Minority Report,' the 2002 film that imagined technology in far-off 2054: Pre-crime systems, 3D video and gesture-based computing are already here," says The New York Times. "E-paper and computer-guided cars are not far behind," it adds. A recent article in The ...

IdeaFeed

Putting Einstein to the Test

Missing
about 4 years ago

Physicists have developed an experiment involving super cold matter and an empty elevator shaft that will test one concept crucial to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. The experiment may shed light onto the tension between quantum physics and Einstein's relativity. "Einstein's 'equivalence ...

IdeaFeed

For-Profit College Scandal

Missing
about 4 years ago

The Big Money shines light on for-profit colleges that take federal money but use far more revenue for recruitment and marketing than for educating their students—a higher education crisis? "As it stands now, for-profit schools are one of the economy’s embarrassments for believers in free markets ...