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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

48 – Nazi War Aims

Missing
over 7 years ago

A British map, I presume, made between 1937 and 1940, showing the German plans for the conquest of Europe “revealed by Secret Nazi Map” – I don’t know if that isn’t a bit of British propaganda, or if there actually was such a map. In fact, this map, whether or not derivative of that supposed ...

Strange Maps

47 - The Lost Continent of Mu

Missing
over 7 years ago

A Pacific counterpart to Atlantis, Mu is supposed to have been a large continent in the middle of the ocean and the home of an advanced civilisation, having sunk beneath the waves many thousands of years ago. The civilisation of Mu is said to have influenced both the Chinese and the native American ...

Strange Maps

46 - How Big Is Jutland?

Missing
over 7 years ago

Although you probably instantly recognise its shape on a map, you may be forgiven for never having heard of Jutland. This northern European peninsula is not an independent entitiy: it’s divided between Denmark, which occupies the northern two thirds of what Danes call Jylland, and Germany in the ...

Strange Maps

45 - Tatooine, Luke Skywalker's Home Planet

Missing
over 7 years ago

Tatooine is a (fictional) desert planet in the Star Wars saga, circling two suns and circled by three moons and home to the Skywalker family. The planet is one of the most iconic of the saga, mentioned in all six movies so far. Tatooine harbors about 200.000 inhabitants, and was for a long time ...

Strange Maps

44 - The World According to Dubya

Missing
over 7 years ago

Post #38 of this blog showed a spoof map of the world, supposedly according to Ronald Reagan – the avuncular 40th President of the US, an icon of conservatism to some, a prime example of cluelessness to others (including those who made the map). I’m old enough to remember that map when it was ...

Strange Maps

43 - Dreaming of Deseret

Missing
over 7 years ago

In 1849, the Mormons who had recently settled the Wild West near the Great Salt Lake, ‘proposed’ the state of Deseret. It’s not clear to me whether this ‘proposal’ equalled a ‘proclamation’ in their minds. It is clear however that the United States never recognised the State of Deseret during the 2 ...

Strange Maps

42 - The Free City of Danzig (1919-1939)

Missing
almost 8 years ago

Maps on old postcards look really cool, I think (see previous post). So I looked for another one, and found this postcard, dating from 1929. Coincidentally, it illustrates another area peripheral to Germany: the Free City of Danzig. This city on the Baltic coast (presently the Polish city of ...

Strange Maps

40 - Totem Foods of North America

Missing
almost 8 years ago

This map illustrates the ‘Totem Foods’ of North America, celebrating “the many distinctive regional food traditions on the North American continent by featuring a totem food key to the identity of each region. These totem foods are more than just important commodities – community feasts, household ...

Strange Maps

38 - The World According to Ronald Reagan

Missing
almost 8 years ago

This parody map shows the world as Ronald Reagan (US president 1980-1988) might have imagined it. Even as parody, it indicates an interesting duality: on the one hand, it presents a view of the world as it no longer is, the Cold War having ended; on the other hand, it illustrates a disparaging ...

Strange Maps

37 - Newyorkistan

Missing
almost 8 years ago

The application of the suffix -stan (Persian for ‘home’) generally refers to countries in central Asia – in fact, the formerly Soviet states that occupy Central Asia are sometimes referred to collectively as ‘The Stans’. When used in other contexts, the suffix can have a negative connotation ...

Strange Maps

35 - The Size of Africa

Missing
almost 8 years ago

Africa remains the least developed continent, and the most plagued by disease, poverty and malnutrition. The ‘dark continent’ also largely remains off the news radar in the developed world, although it’s not clear to me whether that is a consequence or a cause of the troubles it suffers. In any ...

Strange Maps

34 - The 6 Regions of Movie Viewing

Missing
almost 8 years ago

This isn’t a political, but a commercial world map: it specifies the six distinct global ‘DVD regions’ of the world. DVD is short for ‘digital video disc’, the successor to the analog VHS system. Contrary to VHS tapes, which were universally playable on each video recorder, a typical DVD disk can’t ...