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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

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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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Strange Maps Posts

Cartographic curiosities

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Strange Maps

The Accidental Beauty of Flight Paths

23 days ago

There is more between heaven and earth than bird migrations and weather fronts. These maps capture the poetic beauty of something utterly mundane and usually invisible: the flight patterns of the planes that bring us from airport A to airport B. We live in the age of mass air travel. At any ...

Strange Maps

The World (Under Construction)

29 days ago

The World was supposed to be finished years ago. But the financial crisis of 2008 slowed construction. Work now has resumed on the artificial archipelago off Dubai. However, changing plans and obsolete satellite images make it curiously difficult to find out what The World actually looks like these ...

Strange Maps

Edinburgh, Now in Technicolor

about 1 month ago

Edinburgh is the "grey metropolis in the North." It has been for centuries, and thanks to Unesco, the capital of Scotland will keep its dour exterior for the foreseeable future. But couleur locale is all in the mind. This map, by Scottish artist Claire Murray, adds the joyful hues of personal ...

Strange Maps

When Maps Stare Back: IJsseloog and Makian

about 1 month ago

I always go for the window seat on airplanes. I say always. To be honest, only recently did it dawn on me: It looks like a map down there! And then, on a recent flight over the Netherlands, I found the map staring back at me. I blinked first. Airplane windows are designed to let light in, not to ...

Strange Maps

40 Ways to Carve Up England

about 1 month ago

On 18 September, Scotland voted to stay in the UK by 55% to 45%: a wider margin than most expected, but still close enough to warrant the constitutional re-think promised by Westminster in the run-up to the referendum. This result will finally require an answer to the famous West Lothian ...

Strange Maps

Shrug This! Atlas and the Weight of Heaven

about 1 month ago

Ayn Rand almost called her last novel The Strike, but felt that her magnum opus deserved a more symbolic, less descriptive title. She settled on Atlas Shrugged, as explained by this conversation between two of the book's characters: "Mr. Rearden," said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, "if ...

Strange Maps

Italy, Embiggened and Encircled

2 months ago

Why is Italy so big? And why is it fenced in on three sides? The map itself offers very few clues, but nothing piques the interest like a good old treasure hunt. Even if the treasure is our understanding of the map itself.  First clue: the title. L'Italia nei mari translates as 'Italy in the ...

Strange Maps

Kentucky Fried Britain

2 months ago

As Scots go to the polls to determine their future, one oracle has already decreed that independence is inevitable: Englishman Terry O'Neil discovered this piece of chicken in his KFC meal, and was struck by its resemblance to the contours of Britain -- minus Scotland. 

Strange Maps

The Geography of Genius

3 months ago

Genius follows its own law of gravity. It migrates in ever greater numbers to where it thrives. Hence places like Silicon Valley – and attempts to replicate it elsewhere, like London's Silicon Roundabout. The phenomenon is older than the microchip, of course, as proven by these maps. Focusing on ...

Strange Maps

Pinpointing the Ponderosa

3 months ago

This is probably the most recognizable map of the latter part of the 20th century. It's certainly the only one guaranteed to provoke outbursts of humming in viewers of a certain age. But where is the Ponderosa exactly?  Screen grab from Bonanza's opening credits (via YouTube)   From ...