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

Sinabung Update for 9/7/2010: The explosions keep coming

September 7, 2010, 8:58 AM

The unexpected revival of Sinabung in Indonesia is now in its 2nd week and so far, the activity continues to ramp up. Overnight, the volcano experienced some of the largest explosions of this new period of activity, producing an ash cloud that reached 5 km / ~16,000 feet above the edifice. You can check out video of the activity, too. The ash from these explosions is becoming more widespread as well, now falling as far as 15 km from the volcano. Surono, head of the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation, does not think this will calm down anytime soon: "this will not be the last eruption. It will happen again." The president of Indonesia, who visited the region Monday, asked for patience from the evacuees - and is spreading the right messages as he visits the evacuation camps: "Pay attention to the condition of evacuees. Prevent infectious diseases and epidemics. The people’s health should be a priority." Remember, for many volcanic eruptions, it is actually disease that kills the most people due to contamination of drinking water and food supplies, along with living conditions at temporary shelters. UPDATE: I suppose to drive its point home, ash from Sinabung delayed the departure of the the Indonesian president from the area.

The ash cloud from the volcano looks to be very thick with dark grey ash (see below) - and no word that I can find to suggest that the ash is new magma rather than pulverized bits of previously existing conduit material. This pattern of activity is very reminesce to the events that lead to the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo (note: this is not to say that it could be anywhere near as large) - a long-quiet volcano comes back to life through intense seismicity combined with explosions that increase over time.

Sinabung erupting on September 6, 2010.

I know a number of people have voiced their concern about the "connection" between Sinabung and the nearby (~30 km) Toba caldera. Now, I can understand that concern because of their geographical proximity, but there is little evidence that volcanoes even that close together can "trigger" each other. There are a few examples - something like the 1912 eruption at Katmai/Novarupta in Alaska - however, it seems that in many causes, geographic proximity does not enhance activity. An example of this might be Ruapehu in New Zealand - it lies ~40 km to the south of the Taupo caldera (and less than 15 km from Tongariro/Ngauruhoe volcano), yet the activity at Ruapehu in 1995 did not in any way trigger activity at Taupo or Tongariro. Much like the Katla-mongering for Eyjafjallajökull, Toba-mongering is a popular sport for this eruption.

Top left: The steaming crater area on the flanks on Sinabung, taken September 5, 2010.


Sinabung Update for 9/7/201...

Newsletter: Share: