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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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Salman Rushdie, Rainn Wilson and Walter Mosley Interviewed by Big Think

November 12, 2010, 6:40 PM

Big Think interviewed an array of luminaries in a variety of fields this week, including "The Office" star Rainn Wilson, famed novelist Salman Rushdie, and writer Walter Mosley.

Rushdie came into the Big Think offices today to discuss fantasy, video games, Islam, and how to attract women. His new book, " Luke and the Fire of Life," takes its structure from video game narratives, which he sees as vital to the future of storytelling. He also weighed in on the recent national debates about Islam and terrorism, saying that we must distinguish between Islam as a religion and Muslims as a people. But it is foolish to deny that we were attacked in the name of Islam on 9/11, he said. 

Nicholas Carr, author of "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains," also dropped by the Big Think studios this week. He explained the neuroscience behind our brain's plasticity, which is both a good and a bad thing. It allows us to continue to learn new things into adulthood but it also means that we can lose things too, like the ability to concentrate. Carr also discussed other technologies throughout human history that have caused seminal shifts in the way our brains work.

Walter Mosley talked to us about his new book "The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey." The interview provided us a chance to talk with Mosley about his writing process, the challenges of finding a true passion and the trouble with A students. Mosley says young people today share similar anxieties to young people in the 60s, only they're more ambitious about becoming famous. "In the sixties, if you had enough money for food, you could pay your rent, and you were getting laid, then you were happy," says Mosley If there is one person that Mosley would like to interview at Big Think it would be Fidel Castro,  who he says would provide an interesting counterpoint to some many things that America stands for today.

Actor Rainn Wilson told us that his new book, "Soul Pancake," is in part a response to having so many people associate him with his character, Dwight Schrute, on the popular NBC show "The Office." Wilson, who is much less overbearing and egotistical than his onscreen persona, talked about growing up in a Baha'i family, told us about his favorite artists, and described some of the creative difficulties that can plague people as they get older.

Climate Change Realist Bjorn Lomborg, a previous Big Think guest, returned to our studio to discuss global warming fear mongering and Chinese environmental policy. It terms of the environment, the Chinese are experiencing growing pains just like England during the Industrial Revolution, says Lomborg. "People go to China and think the air pollution is bad, and it is," says Lomborg. "But if they were to go to London at the time of the Industrial Revolution they would be hacking and coughing just like they are China." We'll find out whether Lomborg's claims hold true during an upcoming series on the current state of China.

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Salman Rushdie, Rainn Wilso...

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