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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Strange Maps Posts

Cartographic curiosities

1 6 44

Strange Maps

577 - Broken Letters: A Typogeography of Europe

over 1 year ago

There are many ways to look at Europe other than as a collection of nation-states. Plenty of other imagined communities lurk beneath the surface of the standard political map. Check out the continent's alcohol belts [1], have a look at its core and periphery [2], or inspect the languages in which ...

Strange Maps

576 - Baltic Ifs and Polish Buts

over 1 year ago

Maybe it’s because the country’s shape tends towards a square, but Poland’s borders give it a solid, anchored appearance on the map of Europe. And yet those borders are relatively new; few other countries, if any, have expanded, contracted and generally moved around on the map quite as erratically ...

Strange Maps

575 - Fernweh for Magellanica

over 1 year ago

Fernweh [1] is what the Germans call that longing for faraway places, the poetic certainty that things are better elsewhere. But there is a superlative degree of geographic desire, a Fernweh even more sublime: the ache for fictional faraway places. Of such nonexistent locations, the mythical ...

Strange Maps

573 - Look Mum, No Mermaids!

almost 2 years ago

Remember that guy in the Truman Show who pretends to be the protagonist’s best buddy [1]? Who takes him out for a few brewskis on the beach when Truman starts to suspect he’s at the centre of... something? The buddy offers Truman the proverbial shoulder to cry on, but his apparent sincerity is fake ...

Strange Maps

572 - The Phantom Island of Brazil

almost 2 years ago

Map-readers knew about Brazil long before America was discovered; but they didn’t think of it as a giant country on a distant continent. Brazil, also known by the name Hy-Brasil [1], was a small, mist-shrouded island in the North Atlantic, not too far off Ireland’s west coast. Only, Hy-Brasil ...

Strange Maps

571 - The Great Indoors, or Childhood's End?

almost 2 years ago

Not too many decades ago, being a child in the western world meant having a license to roam: you spent a large chunk of your free time outside, exploring your surroundings, chasing adventure. This is the Huckleberry Finn mould of carefree childhood - even if you weren’t floating down the ...

Strange Maps

569 - Germany’s Equators

almost 2 years ago

In the two decades since German reunification, the German government has spent up to €1,6 trillion on upgrading the defunct economic infrastructure of the communist East to match that of the capitalist West. Yet differences, and associated resentments, between the former BRD and DDR [1] persist ...

Strange Maps

567 - Tentacular Moscow

almost 2 years ago

"The plain is bleak and tired, and has surrendered, The plain is bleak and dead - devoured by the city." [1] In Les villes tentaculaires, the symbolist poet Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916) indicts the insatiable hunger with which the modern city gobbles up the surrounding countryside ...

Strange Maps

566 - Gotthard Girl's Pioneering Intestine

almost 2 years ago

An angelic lady from the pre-raphaelite school of femmes fatales is stretched across a map of Europe. Her raised hands clutch a sketch of the late-19th-century European rail network at two of its budding nodes: Paris and Dresden. The lady’s feet and dress are spilling into Italy. The clue to the ...

Strange Maps

565 - Brit Lit Map

almost 2 years ago

Maps usually display only one layer of information. In most cases, they're limited to the topography, place names and traffic infrastructure of a certain region. True, this is very useful, and in all fairness quite often it's all we ask for. But to reduce cartography to a schematic of accessibility ...

Strange Maps

564 - A Ghostly Billiard Game

almost 2 years ago

Just before Rip Van Winkle falls into his thirty-year slumber, he encounters the ghostly spectacle of a handful of ancient Dutch colonials playing at ninepins, the thunder rolling across the Catskills as they bowl their balls.   This images has a similar, eerie quality. It shows a dozen ...

Strange Maps

563 - Pop by Lat and Pop by Long

almost 2 years ago

Did you know that almost 90% of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere? And that half of all Earthlings [1] reside north of 27°N? Or that the average human lives at 24 degrees from the equator - either to its north or south? Bill Rankin did. Or at least he found out, while ...