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

How NASA's Mars Rover Will Help Humans Reach the Red Planet

July 4, 2012, 1:52 PM

What's the Latest Development?

With just 32 days until Curiosity, NASA's newest Mars rover, is set to touch down, scientists are planning to evaluate how suitable its landing technology could be for a manned mission to the Red Planet. Curiosity will use unique landing hardware called the Sky Crane, a form of Supersonic Retro Propulsion where the same force used to lift rockets off of planets is turned around, helping to slow the vehicle as it rushes toward the Martian surface. Though the chemical processes needed for this strategy are well understood, rockets function differently at supersonic speeds and more tests are necessary to design engines that can handle that stress. 

What's the Big Idea?

A meeting of the Lunar Planetary Institute convened last month to discuss other ways to land a craft on Mars, namely Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (HIADs) and various forms of aerobraking. HIADs are better known as heat shields, "which work by using a large surface area to create enough drag through the atmosphere of a planet to slow the traveling craft to a reasonable speed." Mars' thin atmosphere, however, makes resistance much less effective. An aerobraking system called a ballute might also be used, using the air rushing past the craft to fill a tethered balloon. "The compression of the air rushing into the ballute would cause the gas to heat up, in effect creating a hot air balloon that would have similar lifting properties to those used on Earth."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com



How NASA's Mars Rover Will ...

Newsletter: Share: