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

309 - Around the World at Twice the Speed of Fogg

September 23, 2008, 8:38 AM

It took the hero of  Jules Verne’s 1873 novel ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ exactly that amount of time to circumnavigate the globe. Phileas Fogg leaves London on 21 December 1872, accompanied by his manservant Passepartout and arrives back in the British capital after what he first believes to be 81 days; but having crossed the International Date Line and thus having gained one day, Fogg still manages to win the bet – £20,000.

The bet was to prove that the completion of a new railtrack in India made it possible to travel around the Earth in four score days. The advent of air travel in the early twentieth century obviously would diminish the travel time required for such a feat – the current record for fastest circumnavigation still stands at 32 hours, 49 minutes and 3 seconds (set in 1992 by an Air France Concorde).

It’s still possible to travel around the world without airborne transportation, of course. And here also the travel times have greatly diminished since Phileas Fogg’s era. This map is a proposal for a round the world trip, only travelling by boat and train (as Fogg did), starting at and ending in New York. The trip would only take 42 days. Here’s the itinerary:

  • New York – Chicago (train)
  • Chicago – Seattle (train)
  • Seattle – Vancouver (bus – granted, there were no buses either in Fogg’s time)
  • Vancouver – Anchorage – Tokyo (boat)
  • Tokyo – Osaka (train)
  • Osaka – Shanghai (boat)
  • Shanghai – Beijing (train)
  • Beijing – Moscow (train)
  • Moscow – Brussels (train)
  • Brussels – London (train)
  • London – New York (boat)

The longest leg of the trip would be the freighter line from Vancouver to Tokyo via Anchorage (13 days), the most expensive one would be the London to New York boat tyrip on board the Queen Mary 2 ($2,449).

In total, the trip would cost $5,312 (which converts to about £2,900 in today’s money). This map, found here on Very Small Array, an excellent map/infographic-oriented website, dates from 5 May 2005. Be warned that current prices may differ. And send a postcard.


309 - Around the World at T...

Newsletter: Share: