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

Human DNA Could Store All the World's Data

January 26, 2013, 4:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Researchers at European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, UK, have sketched workable plans to encode hard data onto strands of human DNA, rather than use the magnetic tape or hard disks used by computers. "[The system] should, think the researchers, be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10²¹ bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10¹⁵) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry."

What's the Big Idea?

One significant obstacle to this method of encoding and retrieving data is the cost. Currently, encoding information on DNA strands requires $12,400 per megabyte stored, which is millions of times more expensive than current archiving methods. "But magnetic tapes degrade and must be replaced every few years, whereas DNA remains readable for tens of thousands of years so long as it is kept somewhere cool, dark and dry—as proved by the recovery of DNA from woolly mammoths and Neanderthals." Thus encoding DNA with data would make the information effectively eternal, as long as biologists are around to read it.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Economist



Human DNA Could Store All t...

Newsletter: Share: