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.

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Mapping Cancer

December 17, 2009, 5:45 AM
“Researchers have completed the genetic sequences of two types of cancer — skin cancer and small-cell lung cancer — revealing that the genomes bear the hallmarks of their respective carcinogens: sun and smoke. Worldwide, the two diseases kill a total of nearly 250,000 people each year, despite the fact that they are largely preventable. Tumours develop when a normal cell's DNA is damaged, allowing that cell to proliferate unchecked. By sequencing and cataloguing all the mutations in a single tumour type from multiple individuals, scientists aim to identify the genes that are most susceptible to damage, to understand the processes underlying DNA repair, and to develop drugs that counteract certain types of damage… Peter Campbell, a haemotologist and cancer-genomics expert at the Sanger Institute who worked on the latest studies, says that the number of genetic mutations they identified — 33,345 for melanoma and 22,910 for lung cancer — was remarkable. The mutations were not distributed evenly throughout the genome — many were present outside of gene-coding regions, suggesting that cells had repaired damaged DNA in those key regions.”

Mapping Cancer

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