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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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Strange Maps Posts

Cartographic curiosities

Strange Maps

635 - Sex and Drugs and Border Changes

9 months ago

A combination of sex and drugs (and possibly rock 'n roll) is forcing two governments to change the border that divides them. The Presqu'ile de l'Islal, a small Belgian peninsula stranded on the Dutch bank of the river Meuse, is to change hands to eliminate a zone that is, to all practical effects ...

Strange Maps

633 - Who Put the O in Portland?

10 months ago

Archie Archambault, that's who! The philosophy graduate turned printer struck upon the concept of circular maps after moving to Portland. In Oregon's biggest city, he felt something that must have reminded him of grappling with Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. He felt lost.  Not prepared to be ...

Strange Maps

632 - Fibonacci in Budapest

10 months ago

Put a pair of newborn rabbits, a buck and a doe, together in a pen. Assume it takes them a month to start reproducing, and another month for the female to give birth. Assume they produce another male and female pair to which the same applies. Assume no rabbits die. How many rabbits in the pen after ...

Strange Maps

631 - A man, a Plan, a Canal, Karakalpakstan!

10 months ago

Karakalpakstan. The name sounds made up, but it's a real place. And it could have been the 13th member of an exclusive club: nations which have only a's for vowels in their name. The others being the Bahamas, Canada, Chad, Ghana, Japan, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Malta, Myanmar, Panama, Qatar and ...

Strange Maps

630 - The Silver Dog with the Golden Tail

10 months ago

Five score and seventeen years ago, the United States was a boxy, silver-coloured dog with a chunky tail of dark gold. That bizarre image, embedded in the familiar outline of the U.S. map, is as obscure today as it was poignant during the 1896 presidential election. The question dominating that ...

Strange Maps

625 - Gingers of the World, Unite!

12 months ago

"All hail! The red, orange and pale!", "Ginger and proud!" and "It gets redder": those were some of the slogans on display across Edinburgh on 10 August 2013, in what was probably the world's first Ginger Pride parade. The march, part of the Edinburgh Fringe festival, was organised by comedian ...

Strange Maps

624 - This is Your Brain on Maps

about 1 year ago

If you think that trawling the internet for cartography is a harmless endeavour, you are sorely mistaken. Think again. If you still can, that is. The relentless perusal of maps - one more, and then another, but never the last one - is a perversion of the normal requirement in healthy individuals ...

Strange Maps

623 - Fear of a Belgian Planet

about 1 year ago

It's a good season for subterfuge. While the rest of the world is watching Syria - or, more precisely, the omnishambles following Obama's "red line" in the Syrian sand - Europe has quietly, but quite drastically been taken over by Belgium.  This map, published 9 September 2013, shows a continent ...