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

Trove of Rare Earth Metals Found

July 6, 2011, 7:59 AM

What's the Latest Development?

It has long been known that the ocean might provide a wealth of rare earth metals. Sea-floor hydrothermal vents pump out rare-earth elements dissolved in their hot fluids. A recent assessment of the Pacific Ocean's resources published in Nature Geoscience estimates that "a 1-square-kilometre area around the site that has the highest concentration of the elements in its mud holds a cache equivalent to one-fifth of current annual demand—about the same yield as a small mine on land."

What's the Big Idea?

While the elements found on the Pacific floor are the same ones currently used in high-tech gadgets, mining the elements is another questions entirely. "People talk about mining on the asteroids or the Moon. This isn't that hard, but it's similar," says Gareth Hatch, an industry analyst and founder of the Technology Metals Research consultancy in Carpentersville, Illinois. "Commercial mining of [sea-floor] nodules is 'probably a decade away', says Craig Smith, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa."


Trove of Rare Earth Metals ...

Newsletter: Share: