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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.

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Locusts, Lemmings, and Us

January 11, 2010, 12:15 AM

How are large groups of animals capable of astonishingly coordinated behavior? Do human crowds behave according to similar logic? This week Princeton evolutionary biologist Iain Couzin, a specialist in self-organized pattern formation in biological systems, sits down with Big Think for a talk about the bird flocks and the bee swarms.

Explaining the practical applications of his work, Couzin describes how a revised understanding of locust behavior may help curb ongoing plagues in Third World countries, and how studying the similarities between cellular and animal collectives may lead to breakthroughs in cancer research. Discussing human conformity, he also identifies a "Justin Timberlake effect" which holds as much sway on the financial markets as on the pop music scene. (On the other hand, he calls his own favorite band, The Pixies, a "revolutionary" break from the musical herd circa 1990.)


Locusts, Lemmings, and Us

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