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

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

Microbeads: Great For The Skin, Bad For The Fish

June 26, 2013, 6:30 PM
Shutterstock_112685522

What's the Latest Development?

A survey of the Great Lakes done last July revealed alarmingly high concentrations of tiny "perfectly spherical" plastic beads in three of the five lakes. These beads, also known as micro-plastic, are the kind most commonly used as abrasives in face and body scrubs, and they were found in concentrations ranging from 1,500 to (in the case of Lake Erie) 1.7 million particles per square mile. Team leader Lorena Rios presented the results of the survey in April at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society; they will be published in Marine Pollution Bulletin later this summer.

What's the Big Idea?

Microbeads are too small for water filtration systems to catch, and thus end up in the lakes where fish and birds are likely to mistake them for food. In addition, the plastic absorbs other dangerous pollutants that exist in the lakes because of industrial processes. The resulting accumulation in fish and other animals carries those contaminants up the food system. The study is being done in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute, which is studying ocean garbage patches and has helped in convincing cosmetics manufacturers to replace plastic microbeads with natural exfoliants such as pumice or ground walnut husks.

Lefteris Papaulakis / Shutterstock.com

Read it at Scientific American

 

Microbeads: Great For The S...

Newsletter: Share: