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

357 - Forever Australia - Not: Poms Let Oz Map Fade Away

January 28, 2009, 8:59 PM


There’s some corner of an English field that is forever Australia.

This almost century-old chalk map of Oz, carved into a Wiltshire hillside, seems to validate the above variation on war poet Rupert Brooke’s most famous line. That quote, about a foreign field being forever England, and the map are almost contemporary, both dating to the First World War. But not quite: Brooke died in 1915 at the tender age of 28, while under arms (what killed him, incidentally, was not a German bullet, but a nasty mosquito bite). The map, and nearby renditions of regimental insignia, have been dated to 1917 or 1916 at the earliest.

But in spite of already surviving longer than an average human lifespan, the chalk map, above the Wiltshire village of Compton Chamberlayne, is anything but “forever”. Its immortality seems a lot more relative than Brooke’s War Sonnet No 5, from which the original line was lifted. The map of Australia, a remarkable example of curious cartography carved by homesick Australian soldiers, is in the process of grassing over. In 2001, a lack of funds forced the Fovant Badges Society to give up on the map’s upkeep and allow nature to reclaim it. True to its name, the Society concentrates on the nearby regimental badges.

Those badges and the fast fading map of Oz constitute some of the more recent examples of a mysterious British tradition of geoglyphy (i.e. producing figures by exposing chalk substratum on hillsides). This tradition might date back to the Iron Age, although some, similarly undocumented examples probably are no older than the 17th century. Famous examples include the Cerne Abbas Man (a.k.a. the Rude Giant), the Uffington Horse and the Long Man of Wilmington. Uncounted others have over the ages fallen into disrepair and have melted back into nature. The same is now happening to this strange map of Australia, apparently already losing its lettering – the name ‘Australia’ spelled across the 60 metre wide continent.

Many thanks to David Ramos for sending in this link to the Australia map at the Airminded blog, which is dedicated to all aspects of all things airborne. Here are links to the Fovant Badges Society and to the Hillfigure Homepage, which includes a list of Lost Figures. Due to image-grabbing difficulties, I’ve opted to use this image, ostensibly from a Japanese website.


357 - Forever Australia - N...

Newsletter: Share: