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

High Above Us, Bacteria Are Thriving

January 30, 2013, 11:42 AM

What's the Latest Development?

A paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a thriving and diverse population of bacteria and fungi living about 30,000 feet above the Earth's surface. The researchers boarded a NASA aircraft that flew into the lower atmosphere over the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean and allowed them to collect air samples in a variety of environments, including those existing before and after hurricanes. They were able to identify 17 different types of bacteria; among them were microbes commonly associated with human and animal feces, such as Streptococcus.

What's the Big Idea?

Until now, studies of airborne bacteria were done from the ground, and the highest researchers got were the tops of mountain peaks. Study co-author Athanasios Nenes said he and his colleagues were surprised to encounter so much microbial life at that altitude, and that their existence has implications for the climate as well as the spread of illness: "Once you get to that altitude, if you can survive, you can...start out in Europe and end up in Asia." Although the findings are fascinating, bacteriologist David Sands says there's still a ways to go before proving that the bacteria are doing anything "other than waiting for their slow fall back to Earth."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Los Angeles Times


High Above Us, Bacteria Are...

Newsletter: Share: