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

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

Friday Fungoes

May 29, 2009, 12:19 AM

Here's some news bits for all you volcanophiles. Enjoy the weekend!

ubinas3_sm.jpg
Ubinas in Peru steaming away in June 2007. Image courtesy of Eruptions reader Mike Lyvers.

  • There has been a lot of press lately on the theory that a large eruption from an ancient volcanic field in China (the 260-million-year-old Emeishan volcanic province of southwest China) could be the culprit in the grand Permian extinction. I have to admit, I've only skimmed the surface of this study, but the work lead by Dr. Paul Wignall (a paleontologist, not a volcanologist - not that there is anything wrong with that) seems to center around the amount of sulfur dioxide released in this 500,000 km3 basaltic eruption. Now some of the articles seem to be a bit confused about the science, such as attributing the sulfur dioxide to lava flows interacting with water, I think based on a comment by Dr. Wignall that a lot of steam might be produced as lava interacts with water. Of course, we can already discount the coverage in the UK venerable Sun, who titled their article on the study "Eruption was a hel-lava blast" - with an accompanying picture of a random, unrelated volcano (and the link to this on my RSS feed was called "Eruption nearly wiped out planet" ... ah, the Sun!) Really, I think the big news in this study was the ability to precisely date the eruption relative to the extinction using radiometric data and fossil stratigraphy - however, I'm not sure if the "correlation = causation" has been fully justified yet.
  • In a little less ancient news, there has been increased seismicity (in spanish) around Nevado del Huila in Colombia. This week there were at least 25 earthquakes, some as high as M4.8 (in spanish) at ~8.5 km depth (in spanish). They caused some (in spanish) minor damage, landslides and injuries in the area (municipality of Belalcázar) near the active volcano. INGEOMINAS has kept the alert status at Huila at Yellow (Watch), although there was apparently some discussion of raising it to Orange. Huila has been building a new dome since last year at the summit and these earthquakes could herald new magma moving into the edifice from depth.
  • I had mentioned some activity at Ubinas in Peru earlier this week, but authorities in that South American country are playing down the threat. The ash and volcanic gases don't appear to be pointing towards a major eruption say scientists from the Instituto Geofísico Minero Metalúrgico de Moquegua.
  • Eruptions reader David pointed out that Anak Krakatau is experiencing heightened activity to the point that officials have closed off a 3-km area around the volcano to fishermen and tourists. The volcano has had increased seismic activity along with a number of vulcanian explosions over the last few weeks.
  • Finally, there was a brief piece about a fairly significant undersea volcano that was found during a seafloor survey of the Sunda Trench (also known as the Java Trench). This volcanic edifice rises 4,600 meters / 15,000 feet (!) off the ocean floor and has a 50 km / 31 mile circumference. The edifice is located off the coast of the island city of Bengkulu. As for its age and potential threat, it is unknown how old the deposits on the volcano are, but as team scientist Yusuf Surachman notes "an underwater volcano is very dangerous if it erupts." Well put ... especially if it as big as this one appears. UPDATE 5/29/09 9:30AM: OK, this is just weird. It seems like someone, somewhere, is interpreting this discovery as a "new volcano" that sprung up overnight. This is not how I read the initial article - heck, this could be an extinct seamount for all we know right now. Not sure why they are so voraciously denying this beyond worry of panic ... any thoughts?
 

Friday Fungoes

Newsletter: Share: