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

Dating an Eclipse

March 4, 2010, 4:38 PM
Picture_454

Imagine it’s 1178 BC and you’re in the middle of writing one of the most essential works in the western canon, when all of the sudden an intense eclipse takes form ominously in the distance, leaving an indelible mark on an important passage in book 20. As the exhaustive research of the mathematical physicist Marcelo Magnasco reveals, this is exactly what happened to Homer on April 16th of that year, when he was penning “Theoclymenus’s prophecy” and a total lunar eclipse fell over the Ionian Islands. The passage, as Magnasco suggests in today’s Big Think interview, thus acts as a description of the baffling phenomenon.

In order to illustrate this, Magnasco tracked references in the text to Mercury, Venus, and the moon in relation to the rotation of these celestial bodies between the years 1250-1115 B.C., a process which left this day as the only suitable date.

Sound esoteric? Maybe, but Magnasco’s research also represents a valuable merger between the sciences and the humanities, employing the tools of the modern era to shed new light on some of the humanities’ centuries-old academic impasses. Imagine, for instance, if an analogous technique were applied to dating, say, The Old Testament.

Magnasco performed this research as a hobby, and his day-job as the head of Rockfeller University’s Lab of Mathematical Physics has yielded a number of other equally fascinating findings. He has, for instance, been a pioneering figure in discovering how our mind actually processes the information derived from our senses, demonstrating, for example, that what we hear actually has a powerful influence on what we see.

 

Dating an Eclipse

Newsletter: Share: