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

Does Lightning Come From Outer Space?

May 8, 2013, 5:46 PM

What's the Latest Development?

A paper published last week in Physical Review Letters suggests that cosmic rays could be the source of lightning generated during thunderstorms on Earth. Physicists Alex Gurevich and Anatoly Karashtin analyzed radio pulses from almost 3,800 lightning strikes in Russia and Kazakhstan and determined that they could be created by an avalanche of electrons that are normally set off by the collision between cosmic rays and air molecules. In addition, thunderclouds contain large amounts of electrically-charged water and ice, which means that the rays don't have to be especially strong to generate the cascade of electrons needed to develop lightning.

What's the Big Idea?

Gurevich first suggested a connection between cosmic rays and lightning strikes over 20 years ago as a possible answer to why thunderclouds discharged lightning despite having only a fraction of the electrical strength needed to do so. Initial estimates indicated that very strong cosmic rays would be involved, but such rays didn't reach Earth frequently enough to account for the sheer number of lightning strikes hitting the planet daily. Further research is currently taking place around the world that could confirm or refute Gurevich's updated theory.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at LiveScience


Does Lightning Come From Ou...

Newsletter: Share: