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

405 - Scroll Britannia: the UK's First Road Map

August 8, 2009, 10:12 AM


This extraordinary map, dating from 1675, details The Road From LONDON to the LANDS END Comencing at the Standard in Cornhill and Extending to Senan in Cornwall. It was made by IOHN OGILBY Esq[ui]r[e] his Ma[jes]ties Cosmographer and covers 308 miles and 3 furlongs (almost 500 km).

The life of John Ogilby (1600-1676) can be qualified without exaggeration as rather eventful. He freed his father from debtors’ prison by buying a winning lottery ticket, founded a dance school in London and later Dublin’s Theatre Royal, got shipwrecked on his return from Ireland, produced a very successful English verse transaltion of Virgil, lost all his property in the Great Fire of London (1666), and towards the end of his life managed to produce the Britannia Atlas (1675), considered to be the first road atlas of Britain.

The atlas set the standard for using 1760 yards for the mile, and a scale of one inch to the mile. It contained a large number of strip road maps like these, which proved popular in planning journeys throughout the United Kingdom.

The first strip on the left-hand side from this map takes in much of contemporary London, showing (bottom to top, i.e. east to west) part of the City of London (containing Cornhill), Southwark, Westminster, Hide Park, Kensington, Hamersmith, Turnham Green and Smallheere Green. The next strips are labelled A through E (at the bottom) and B through F (at the top), showing the orientation and order in which they should be viewed.

The strips take in places such as Hounslow, Stanes, Egham, Windsor Park, Bagshot Park, Basingstoke, Wotton, Whitchurch and Andover. The rivers and hills encountered are noted, as are the forks in the road, and the directions in which these lead. Andover, the last town on this map, is in Hampshire, and is still a long way away from Land’s End, the end point of this road map; indicating that this page is still a few scrolls short of being a complete map.

Some of the notes on the map are remarkable for their spelling of place-names; 17th-century English insisted on spelling bridg without the final -e; and Paddington was known as Pudington, for example.

Many thanks to Paul Kerrigan for sending in this link to Priddy’s Hard, a website about the eponymous area near Gosport in Hampshire. The link shows a number of maps, including this one.





405 - Scroll Britannia: the...

Newsletter: Share: