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

Eruption at Sarychev Peak threatening air traffic

June 14, 2009, 11:54 PM

Sarychev Peak in Russia erupting on June 14, 2009. Image courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory.

The transpacific air routes over the Aleutians, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands are a prime location for the threat of ash to commercial aviation. Many of these volcanoes, especially on the western side of the Pacific Ocean are not closely monitoring and sometimes only remote sensing techniques can keep track of the activity.

Case in point is the current eruption at Sarychev Peak in the Kuril Islands. The volcano is on one of the southern-most Kuril Islands (Ostrov Matua) in Russia, just north of the (contested) border with Japan. The eruption was first detected on June 12th by the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency and then captured by the MODIS on a NASA Aqua satellite. The impressive tan plume is seen over the cloud cover spreading over 250 km / 150 miles away from the volcano. By June 13th, the ash had spread to over 700 km / 450 miles from the volcano, again captured by NASA (including some thermal information indicating the hot spot for the volcano). The ash plume is over 8 km / 5 miles tall - and it is this thick ash plume that is threatening air travel across the Kuril Islands.

This is the first time I had heard of Sarychev Peak even though it is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Islands. An andesitic volcano currently sits within an older 3.5 km / 2 mile caldera. The volcano produced both passive and explosive eruptions, either in the form of andesite lava flows (possibly as recently as 1986) or pyroclastic flows, some of which necessitated evacuations of the (sparse) population. An eruption in 1946 was possibly as powerful as a VEI 4 where pyroclastic flows made it to the ocean.


Eruption at Sarychev Peak t...

Newsletter: Share: