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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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IdeaFeed Posts

Big ideas in the news from around the web

IdeaFeed

By The Numbers

Missing
about 4 years ago

Privacy concerns aside, the millions of dollars needed to maintain surveillance cameras would be better spent on beat cops, writes Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune. "The point of any law enforcement tool is not just to do some good but also to do some good at a reasonable cost compared with the ...

IdeaFeed

Letting It Roll

Missing
about 4 years ago

Scientists have found that the brains of problem gamblers react more intensely to "near misses" than those of casual gamblers—possibly spurring them on to play more. The brain region that responds to rewards by delivering a dose of dopamine was found to be especially active in these people ...

IdeaFeed

Kill the Birds?

Missing
about 4 years ago

A German animal biologist Silvia Gaus says we should be killing the oil-soaked birds in the Gulf of Mexico. Doing so would be less painful in the long run than trying to clean them, she says. Studies and other experts back her up: while cleaning birds and releasing them back into the wild yields ...

IdeaFeed

Wall Street's Swoon

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Some of the carnage on Wall Street yesterday was apparently caused by technical errors. ... If computerized trading is found to have accelerated the slump, this may strengthen demands for tighter regulation of high-speed trading. But to blame human error and algorithms entirely would be far too ...

IdeaFeed

John Wayne in Farsi

Missing
about 4 years ago

Abou Farman writes about the art of the "Persian dub" in movies of the 1970's. Western movies would get creative embellishments in translation from the Farsi version of John Wayne's voice. "The glory of Persian dub, while it lasted, was that it didn’t hide the artifice of film or its theatrical ...

IdeaFeed

We're Part Caveman

Missing
about 4 years ago

Scientists have sequenced the Neanderthal genome, discovering it to be practically identical to that of humans. In fact, most humans can probably trace some of their DNA to Neanderthals. “The Neanderthals are not totally extinct. In some of us they live on a little bit,” said Max Planck Institute ...

IdeaFeed

Denying AIDS

Missing
about 4 years ago

Denialism about the nature of the AIDS virus is estimated to have killed many thousands of people. Jon Cartwright asks if scientists should be held accountable. Meanwhile Bruce Charlton defends his decision last year to publish the work of the AIDS skeptic Peter Duesberg, known as "perhaps the world ...

IdeaFeed

Green China

Missing
about 4 years ago

Bruce Usher writes that the United States "is missing a key ingredient in shaping an effective clean-tech policy: the political will to encourage the innovation, manufacturing and investment necessary to bring these new technologies to market." He thinks that the longer the U.S. drags its feet on ...

IdeaFeed

One the One Hand...

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Scientists report that when people wash their hands immediately after making a decision, they are less likely to rationalize its merits—possibly making them less content with the decision but more objective about the option they rejected." This is part of growing evidence that sensory experiences ...

IdeaFeed

Lasers of War

Missing
about 4 years ago

Northrop Grumman is testing a high-powered laser that can be used by U.S. soldiers in combat settings. The "nd:YAG" laser is powerful enough to inflict damage, but it is made out of the materials are compact and transportable. The military has long wanted to develop lasers for the battlefield; they ...

IdeaFeed

Time and Again

Missing
about 4 years ago

By creating the first theoretical model of a wormhole 75 years ago today, Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen allowed science-fiction writers to consider the idea of time travel. "In the three-quarters of a century since Einstein thought up wormholes, we haven't come close to observing one, though we ...

IdeaFeed

High-Density Living

Missing
about 4 years ago

"By 2050, almost 70 percent of the world's estimated 10 billion inhabitants—or more than the number of people living today—will be part of massive urban networks. ... These staggering statistical trends are driving the evolution of the 'megacity,' defined as an urban agglomeration of more than 10 ...

IdeaFeed

After the Spill

Missing
about 4 years ago

If a desperate, last-ditch attempt to cap the Deepwater Horizon wellhead fails, environmental damage to the Gulf of Mexico may profoundly and permanently alter the area. "Thousands of miles of marshlands, sea-grass meadows and coral reefs—and the human industries they support—could be damaged beyond ...

IdeaFeed

The Moon and Wine?

Missing
about 4 years ago

Some winemakers and enthusiasts believe that the moon affects the way wine tastes on a particular day. They think that wine tastes better on so-called "fruit" days—those days in the lunar calendar when water and saps rise—as opposed to a "root" day, when they fall. "The more we investigated, the ...

IdeaFeed

To Be or Not to Be?

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Hanging is the most popular method of self-slaughter in the world and the second most popular in the United States, after firearms," writes Brendan Kiley, in his look at the history, meaning, and practice of suicide. "The world's most popular jump site is said to be Mount Mihara, a volcano on an ...