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

213 - Pangaea Ultima: Climbing the Mediterranean Mountains

December 4, 2007, 8:00 AM
Pangeaultima_scotese_big1

 “Is this what will become of the Earth’s surface?” asks the entry for 22 September 2007 of Astronomy Picture of the Day, a website affiliated with Nasa (judging from its url).“The surface of the Earth is broken up into several large plates that are slowly shifting. About 250 million years ago, the plates on which the present-day continents rest were positioned quite differently, so that all the landmasses were clustered together in one supercontinent now dubbed Pangea*. About 250 million years from now, the plates are again projected to reposition themselves so that a single landmass dominates. The above simulation from the Palaeomap Project shows this giant landmass: Pangea Ultima**. At that time, the Atlantic Ocean will be just a distant memory, and whatever beings inhabit Earth will be able to walk from North America to Africa.”

  • Not only will the Atlantic Ocean disappear (and be replaced by an Atlantic Mountain Range), the Indian Ocean will become a large lake, bounded by the eastern coasts of South America and Africa, and the coast of southeast Asia. The protrusion of the Indian subcontinent is still recognizable.
  • Australia, Antarctica and New Guinea will be joined too; if present species persist and the resulting mountain range doesn’t prove impassable, Australia might be overrun by penguins or Antarctica by kangaroos. Or Austro-Antarctic Guinea might be ruled by a new species that’s a hybrid of both, a tuxedo-clad marsupial, hopping across the icy wastes.
  • The Hudson Bay and Alaska remain recognizable, but the Great Lakes appear to disappear.
  • Ireland and Great Britain obstinately refuse to merge – both with each other and with the Continent.
  • Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea will change position, but not shape.
  • The Mediterranean Sea will be squeezed out of existence by Africa pushing into Europe, giving rise – quite literally – to a mountain range where at present there’s still sea.
  • The Korean peninsula is still there, but Japan seems to be swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean, no longer content to be the biggest ocean in the world, it will be the world’s only ocean.

pangeaultima_scotese_big1.jpg

*: or Pangaea, in a more conservative spelling. This name for the supercontinent that existed around the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic eras was first used by Alfred Wegener in his 1920 book Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane (‘The Origin of Continents and Oceans’), in which he first proposed the theory of continental drift.

**: or Pangaea Ultima, translatable as ‘the ultimate unified landmass’. The remaining sole body of water can then be dubbed Panthalassa Ultima. This map was sent in by Jenn Berg.

 

213 - Pangaea Ultima: Climb...

Newsletter: Share: