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.

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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

More R&D, Please

Missing
over 4 years ago

Bill Gates argues that private enterprise is insufficient to meet our renewable energy goals; public funds are best suited for critical research and development. "We need a vigorous strategy to invent our future and ensure its safety and prosperity. In the realm of energy, as with medicine and ...

IdeaFeed

She Was No Einstein

Missing
over 4 years ago

The popular notion that Einstein's first wife, Mileva Marić, contributed significantly to his mathematical theorems lacks fundamental evidence, writes Allen Esterson. "A highly regarded feminist sociologist has uncritically reproduced claims about alleged contributions to Einstein’s celebrated 1905 ...

IdeaFeed

Radiation on the Brain

Missing
over 4 years ago

Harper's magazine tries to make sense of the many baffling studies conducted on the effects of cell phone radiation on the brain. "Industry lobbyists insist that everything emitted by cell phones is innocuous—but can we trust them? Should we all be wearing headsets or even not using certain ...

IdeaFeed

Apologies and Progress

Missing
over 4 years ago

Rather than apologize for recent Western economic dominance, we should try to copy its model and implement it in developing nations to reduce poverty, writes David Landes. "In general, the countries and regions that have done best are precisely those that have taken advantage of the opportunities ...

IdeaFeed

Music Makers

Missing
over 4 years ago

Music Professor Jason Freeman has created open source composition software to encourage the public to remix and compose sheet music. "It saddens me that so few of us make music. I believe that all of us are musically creative and have something interesting to say. I also wish that everyone could ...

IdeaFeed

Mapping Climate Politics

Missing
over 4 years ago

How will the effects of climate change impact politics in America over the next 25 years? Hotter summers might curb the trend of moving to the Southeast and the coasts, and Northern state populations could swell by 20 percent by 2035. And urban centers are likely to expand. "Taken together, these ...

IdeaFeed

The War on Disease

Missing
over 4 years ago

Bill Gates is reconsidering his strategic giving after $700 million in donations failed to stop the spread of polio ravaging the Third World. Many are beginning to acknowledge that disease-specific health wars only work if they also strengthen the overall health system in poor countries. "If ...

IdeaFeed

Free-Range Dinosaurs

Missing
over 4 years ago

Researchers doing a statistical analysis of dinosaur fossils have discovered that the entire western interior of the United States was populated by a single community of dinosaurs. They determined that the difference in species among dinosaurs in regions across North America was relatively low ...

IdeaFeed

Making Reparations

Missing
over 4 years ago

Henry Louis Gates Jr. writes that Barack Obama has an opportunity to reshape the debate over reparations—"the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage. ... He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and ...

IdeaFeed

Sleep, Memory

Missing
over 4 years ago

A new study indicates that dreams may help to improve memory. Scientists at Harvard Medical School have found that subjects who dreamed about a virtual reality maze that they had been in a few hours earlier were quicker to get out of it the second time they were tested. The students who did dream ...

IdeaFeed

Hydrothermal Groupies

Missing
over 4 years ago

When undersea volcanic eruptions destroy life at hydrothermal vents—the intersections of tectonic plates—new species travel from as far as 200 miles away to repopulate the area. "We don’t understand how they get from one vent to another," biological oceanographer Lauren Mullineaux said. "But because ...

IdeaFeed

Inside Wikipedia

Missing
over 4 years ago

Behind the scenes at the German-language version of Wikipedia, a small cadre of dedicated volunteers gets into bitter disputes over what is true and what isn't. "The people involved in Wikipedia clash intensely—and ... they're also debating important things when they fight so earnestly over small ...

IdeaFeed

Reining in Ahab

Missing
over 4 years ago

Despite an international moratorium on commercial whaling that was passed in 1986, the number of whales that have been killed by harpoon has risen steadily to about 1,700 in 2009. Recognizing this, a number of anti-whaling countries now have proposed a deal that would give currently whaling ...

IdeaFeed

Registering Risk

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Requiring derivatives and synthetic securities to be registered would be simple and effective; yet the legislation currently under consideration contains no such requirement," writes George Soros. "The Senate Agriculture Committee proposes blocking deposit-taking banks from making markets in swaps ...

IdeaFeed

Census Forms

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Most people who appear phenotypically 'black' enjoy neither the privilege nor the inclination to play around on a government form designed to track and remediate generations of prejudice," writes Patricia Williams. "To be visibly black in this culture is to feel race every day--one can't forget it ...