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?
A new paper published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics describes research done with microscopic flakes of graphene oxide and simulated nuclear wastes containing uranium and other radioactive materials. Compared to other, conventional substances used in nuclear cleanup procedures, the flakes were able to adhere to the radioactive matter at a very quick rate, creating solids that, while still radioactive, were easier to handle and dispose of. The research was a collaborative effort between scientists at Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University.
What's the Big Idea?
When it comes to cleaning up nuclear waste, fast is good. Chemist Stepan Kalmykov says, "[T]he high retention properties [of graphene oxide] are not surprising to us. What is astonishing is the very fast kinetics of sorption." In addition to its potential benefits for cleaning up sites like Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear plants, graphene oxide could be used to filter out naturally radioactive contaminants found in groundwater produced during hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). It could also help revive the currently-stagnant American rare earth metal mining industry, says chemist James Tour. "China owns the market because they're not subject to the same environmental standards."
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