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

A Spiderweb That Could Sense Your Pulse

September 12, 2013, 1:15 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Florida State University researcher Eden Steven collected silk from a type of golden orb-weaver spider, coated it with a polarized powder of carbon nanotubes, added a little water, pressed the whole thing between two sheets of Teflon, and allowed it to dry. The result is a super-tough composite that's both flexible and electrically conductive. Different humidity levels cause it to expand or contract, which makes it easy to manipulate around wires. In addition, the material is "sensitive enough to detect the electrical signals from a heart pulse."

What's the Big Idea?

Scientists have combined spider silk with other conductive materials, such as gold, but the hybrid wasn't as stretchy or flexible. Not only does Steven's method result in something that can be used in a wide range of bendable sensors, it's surprisingly simple, says MIT bioengineer Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli: "It looks like something you could do in your kitchen at home...These results open new opportunities in moulding and shaping actuators or sensors, where you could potentially think about different geometries or forms." One big challenge involves scaling up spider silk production, but synthetic silk could become a possible substitute.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at New Scientist


A Spiderweb That Could Sens...

Newsletter: Share: