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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

Anoxic Animals

Missing
over 4 years ago

Researchers have found three species that apparently spend their entire lives in the oxygen-starved waters at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Previously, living oxygen-free was thought to only be possible for viruses and single-celled microorganisms, but these three as-yet-unnamed bottom ...

IdeaFeed

Palin-tology

Missing
over 4 years ago

Sarah Palin's speeches are given to "meandering phraseology of a kind suggesting someone more commenting on impressions as they enter and leave her head rather than constructing insights about them," writes John McWhorter. He doesn't think that Palin's way of speaking is attractive to her fans, per ...

IdeaFeed

Birds Stay Close

Missing
over 4 years ago

Faced with climate change, some birds are changing their migration schedules and staying closer to home -- and in the future they might stop migrating altogether. Researchers have found that some birds are shortening their migrations, putting more energy toward breeding and eating instead of flying ...

IdeaFeed

Cancer and Veggies

Missing
over 4 years ago

For decades, the World Health Organization has been saying that eating more fruits and vegetables will help reduce the incidence of cancer -- but it appears those dietary additions do little. Evidence from multiple studies indicates that the protective effects of these foods against cancer are ...

IdeaFeed

Tiny Beams

Missing
over 4 years ago

Physicists have developed the smallest electrically pumped laser ever, with a beam that is 30 micrometers long, eight micrometers high, and has a wavelength of 200 micrometers. It is the first time that a laser has been created that is smaller than the wavelength its light emits. Scientists think ...

IdeaFeed

Large Lizards

Missing
over 4 years ago

Scientists in the Philippines say they have discovered a new species of giant lizards with bright yellow, blue, and green skin, that lives in the forests and survives on a fruit-only diet. The lizard is actually well-known to rural tribes, which regularly hunt them for meat -- but until now ...

IdeaFeed

Hypo-Allergenic City

Missing
over 4 years ago

Cities could reduce their pollen count by planting street trees that produce very little of it, writes Thomas Leo Ogran, author of the book Allergy-Free Gardening. American cities weren't always hotbeds of springtime sneezing. Rather, he writes, they became much more allergenic in the 60s and 70s ...

IdeaFeed

Rethinking the Grid

Missing
over 4 years ago

New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences suggests that a gigantic network of offshore wind power stations along the Eastern seaboard could potentially provide energy to a large swath of the U.S. without much threat of outages. The concept, outlined by marine ...

IdeaFeed

Animal Magnetism

Missing
over 4 years ago

The burgeoning field of animal personality research seeks to figure out why individual members of a species can have so much in common, and yet be so much themselves. Natalie Angier reports that scientists have found evidence of repeated individual behaviors, preferences and personality quirks among ...

IdeaFeed

Behind the Veil

Missing
over 4 years ago

With Belgium set to join France in banning women from wearing the burqa or niqab in public, Yassin Musharbash writes that getting rid of the garment won't solve the underlying problems of Muslim immigration and integration that plague Western societies. "Europe stands for the idea of a lively, open ...

IdeaFeed

Ice Age Tree Rings

Missing
over 4 years ago

A team of researchers are hoping to find 30,000 years of climate records in the rings of preserved kauri trees in the peat bogs of New Zealand. Led by Exeter University, the scientists have been awarded a grant to do carbon dating and analysis of the trees, which can provide a very precise picture ...

IdeaFeed

Oh, the Humanities

Missing
over 4 years ago

With tenure-track positions dwindling at universities, Peter Conn writes that humanities faculties need to "articulate our contribution if we hope to find increasing levels of support for the work we do." He says a generation of "dithering," "wishful thinking," and "institutional inertia" is behind ...

IdeaFeed

95-Million-Year-Old Bugs

Missing
over 4 years ago

An 95-million-year-old amber deposit found in Ethiopia includes the fossilized remains of ants, spiders, wasps, and bacteria, and is providing new information about how those species lived in the Cretaceous era -- the time following the age of dinosaurs, when mammals were first beginning to develop ...

IdeaFeed

The New Paternalism

Missing
over 4 years ago

New paternalism came from behavioral economics, which studies how humans deviate from their rational interest, and devises ways to intervene and help them make better choices -- such as a hefty cigarette tax to curb smoking. Glen Whitman writes that while people are certainly susceptible to ...

IdeaFeed

Concentration Nation

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Restlessness, impatience, impulsivity, procrastination, chronic lateness, and difficulty getting organized, focusing and finishing tasks." About 4.4% of American adults are believed to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and more and more of them are being diagnosed and treated with ...