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

Can We Make Biofuel From Tobacco?

October 30, 2013, 4:30 PM

What's the Latest Development?

For her PhD, NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre agricultural engineer Ruth Sanz-Barrio focused on two specific types of thioredoxins, small proteins that exist in most living organisms, including tobacco plants. By modifying some of the genes in these proteins, she was able to increase substantially the amounts of starch, fermentable sugars and proteins they produced in the plants. With the sugars, she says, "one could obtain up to 40 litres of bioethanol per tonne of fresh [tobacco] leaves...which would mean an almost tenfold increase in bioethanol yield with respect to the [genetically unmodified] control tobacco plant." In addition, the extra proteins could provide a new, affordable source of commercial albumin, which is widely used in medical applications.

What's the Big Idea?

As smoking declines in popularity, particularly among developed nations, tobacco growers are understandably concerned about the value of their crop going forward. Sanz-Barrio's groundbreaking research with tobacco proteins could open up a new path in which genetically-modified plants could relieve some of the biofuel production load currently shared by food crops such as wheat, barley and corn.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at ScienceDaily


Can We Make Biofuel From To...

Newsletter: Share: