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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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Find Out What Dark Matter Is Made Of, Win Cash

November 21, 2012, 3:00 PM
Shutterstock_104754662

What's the Latest Development?

Programmers across the globe have until December 16 to enter the "Observing Dark Worlds" contest, which is sponsored by Winton Capital Management and run by Kaggle, a company that calls itself "the leading platform for predictive modeling competitions." This particular competition's challenge: Find a reliable way to determine the components of dark matter, which makes up a significant portion of the universe. The winners will receive cash prizes ($12,000 for first place, smaller amounts for second and third places) and interviews for potential positions at Winton.

What's the Big Idea?

For decades, scientists have known of the existence of dark matter, which helps keep growing galaxies from dispersing. However, they still don't know exactly what the stuff is made up of. Current models used to guess at the answer are very general, and University of Edinburgh astrophysicist Thomas Kitching says that better, more precise versions are needed. He and his colleagues decided to bring the idea of a contest to Kaggle because "we were under-resourced. Until now, there were maybe five people in the world who thought about this problem." The plan worked: As of today 220 teams are working on it, each hoping to make astrophysics history. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

Find Out What Dark Matter I...

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