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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.

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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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Radically Rethinking Solutions to the Traffic Jam

June 11, 2014, 1:30 PM

What's the Latest?

Conventional wisdom about how to combat traffic jams has been overturned. Planners once thought that building more and wider roads was the solution, but a new study out of California finds that 90% of any new road capacity will be swallowed up by traffic within just five years. In other words, more roads invite more cars. Furthermore, scientific attempts to understand traffic flow patterns have been thwarted. Gabor Orosz of the University of Michigan: Although analogies to fluids, gasses, birds, and even skiers have been proposed, "it is becoming more and more obvious that traffic flows like no other flow in the Newtonian universe”.

What's the Big Idea?

Cities are beginning to innovate as traffic congestion begins to take a serious tole. Sitting in traffic increases gas consumption, stifles productivity while workers and goods sit idle, and harms the health of inner-city dwellers. Moscow has begun using smart parking spaces that alert drivers electronically when they are available. Google's automated vehicles reduce congestion by "platooning" lines of cars, removing torpid and unpredictable human behavior from the equation. London has shown a preference for policy solutions whereby specific driving taxes, and other legal measures, are implemented to discourage inner-city driving. 

Read more at BBC Future

Photo credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry/Shutterstock


Radically Rethinking Soluti...

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