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

Monday Musings: Etna's ash, mapping Kilauea deformation, Auckland's new volcano and more

April 4, 2011, 9:13 AM

I'm as surprised as you are, but it is already Monday. Busy week for me - students getting ready to register for Fall Semester courses and a talk to give at the end of the week ... but at least we get to watch "In the Path of a Killer Volcano" (about the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo) in my freshman volcanoes class. That documentary is probably my favorite all-time, definitely worth checking out if you want to see front line volcanologists at work.

(UPDATE: Commenting seems to work again. Thanks to the tech folks here for figuring it out!)

Some news:

Etna: Dr. Boris Behncke has been keeping us appraised on the fits and spurts at Sicily's volcano. We haven't seen a return to the spectacular eruptions of January 2011, but there have been small ash emissions over the past few days from the southeast crater, which could suggest that more activity is in the works. Looks like we need to keep an eye on the volcano. However, March was a quiet month for both Etna and Stromboli.

Kilauea: The Hawaiian volcano will get the InSAR treatment over the next week from a NASA aircraft. InSAR is a method of using radar to look at changes in the surface of the Earth by comparing two images taken during different periods and then comparing the two images. By seeing where they are different, you can determine how much potential uplift/deflation might have occurred (if you're examining a volcano). Kilauea was last imaged in January of this year, so these new flights will hopefully be able to see minute changes in the volcano since the March Kamoamoa Fissure. The latest Kilauea update reports that the volcano is inflating near the summit crater while activity at Pu`u O`o appears to be sporadic with weak deflation.

Ambrym: NASA also released an image of ash and volcanic gases from Ambrym volcano in Vanuatu spreading out over the Pacific. Ambrym is one of the more active volcanoes in the Southern Pacific island chain with an active lava lake (top left) - and made famous last year by this video.


DEVORA (DEterming VOlcanic Risk in Auckland) logo. Kind of reminds me of this.

Auckland: It always amazes me how little people know about their surroundings - which is why, whenever I see news from New Zealand about Auckland's volcanic past (and present), it seems to be treated with such shock in the media. Yes, the city of Auckland is built upon the Auckland Volcanic Field, which has been quiet as of late, but doesn't mean it will always stay that way. The latest article mentions the identification of another volcano under the city - the Grafton volcano - which appears to have last been active 50,000 years ago (although that number could change). All of this research is part of the DEVORA project (which might have the best logo ever - see top left) to fully characterize the volcanism present in the geologic record around New Zealand's largest city.

Iceland: Volcanic activity has been pretty quiet in Iceland lately. That hasn't stopped Jón Frímann from being busy - he recently posted what could only be called the "Cliff Notes" for Icelandic eruption. Check it out to see how active the island has been over the ~1,200 years.

Top left: Undated image of the crater at Ambrym, Vanuatu.


Monday Musings: Etna's ash,...

Newsletter: Share: