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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.

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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Why Mars Beckons

April 13, 2011, 6:58 AM

What's the Big Idea?

Colonizing the Red Planet looms large on the space agenda now. Why? In this fascinating piece, NASA research scientist Joel S. Levine lists and examines the motivations for this exciting yet very challenging mission: to inspire both the American public and the next generation of researchers, enhanced national prestige, technological leadership, enhanced national security, development of new technologies (for non-space spin-off applications), enhanced economic vitality, and new scientific discoveries not obtainable from robotic missions to Mars. Others would add that Mars might offer a safe haven (if we look like following the fate of the dinosaurs thanks to a large asteroid or comet impact) and a possible solution to our population explosion.

What's the Latest Development?

Maybe the main point is the need for a definitive development. Is there life on Mars now or not? Was there ever? If there was, what happened to it? Today, 35 years after the Viking landing on Mars, scientists still debate the results and interpretation of the mission's life detection experiments. Levine says there's only one way to obtain unambiguous results, and that involves human presence.


Why Mars Beckons

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