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.
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What's the Latest Development?
After training six rats to locate LED-lit ports in a special chamber, Duke neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis and his team implanted electrodes into the sensory processing area of their brains and wired them to infrared cameras. When the camera detected infrared light, their whisker neurons would be stimulated, and the amount of stimulation would increase or decrease depending on the rats' proximity to the light. Then the team put them back into the chamber after replacing the LEDs with infrared signals. After 26 days, all of the rats were able to locate the ports. Details of the team's work was recently published in Nature Communications.
What's the Big Idea?
Months after the initial experiment, the rats could still respond to infrared light as well as to whisker stimulation, suggesting that the neurons are flexible enough to identify different types of cues. For humans, the ability to "train" sensory neurons to respond to things that go beyond current capabilities -- such as being able to "see" in infrared, or "feel" something with a prosthetic hand -- could mean a future in which all senses can be artificially magnified.
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