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

Finding the Higgs is the Beginning of a Long Quest to Discover a Theory of Everything

December 17, 2011, 5:00 PM

The announcement this week that two groups of scientists have narrowed the search for the elusive Higgs Boson made headlines around the world. Next year, physicists actually hope to find the Higgs particle. 

But is this an end to physics? No - It's just the beginning. The Higgs particle is the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, called the Standard Model of particles although we have yet to confirm its existence.

Once found, it will complete this picture of known sub-atomic particles. However, the Standard Model can only explain 4% of the matter/energy content of the universe. The rest is made of dark matter (23%) and dark energy (73%). We know that atoms make up a distinct minority in this universe and 96% of the univese is NOT made of atoms (and the particles of the Standard Model). Even more glaring, the Standard Model does not contain gravity, yet gravity is the most pervasive force in the universe.

Obviously, the Standard Model can only describe a small piece of the universe. Worse, from an artistic point of view, the Standard Model is thought to be one of the ugliest theories to be proposed in all of modern physics. It has over 19 free parameters, 3 sets of redundant particles, 36 different types of quarks and anti-quarks, and a motley collection of gluons, leptons, Higgs, Yang-Mills particles, etc. To me, it is like taking Scotch tape, and wrapping up an aardvark, platypus, and a whale, and calling this natures finest evolutionary achievement. 

Obviously, the Standard Model is not the final theory and even the originators of the Standard Model admit this. At present, the only mathematically self-consistent theory which can give a truly unified picture of the universe is string theory. It has not yet been verified, but the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may eventually find convincing evidence for the theory, if all goes well. The next target for the LHC might be dark matter, an invisible substance which holds the galaxy from flying apart; The leading candidate for dark matter comes from string theory. In this controversial picture, the particles we see around us (arranged into the Standard Model) are akin to the lowest octave of a vibrating string. But the string has higher "octaves," and these describe the "sparticles," or superparticles. It is also believed that dark matter consists of the sparticles predicted by string theory. 

So finding the Higgs particle, instead of being the end, is actually just the beginning of the long quest, begun by Einstein himself, to find a theory of everything. 


Finding the Higgs is the Be...

Newsletter: Share: