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

Louis XVI's Blood... Isn't

April 25, 2014, 7:30 PM
Bt_royalty_final
Editor's Note: This article was provided by our partner, RealClearScience. The original is here.

In early 2013, a team of scientists reported that blood on a stained handkerchief kept within a two-century-old gourd belonged to legendary French monarch Louis XVI.

The finding fit in nicely with popular history: After Louis XVI's public beheading in 1793, citizens of the newly formed French Republic supposedly rushed forward to dab their handkerchiefs in the quickly pooling blood.

That macabre, chaotic collection of timeless souvenirs could very well have happened, but a new study published in Nature's Scientific Reports disputes the earlier report from 2013. The blood in that gourd almost certainly doesn't belong to Louis XVI.

After sequencing the genome of the DNA contained within that blood, a team of geneticists turned up a great many reasons to doubt its royal authenticity. For starters, an examination of alleles determining height and eye color show that the blood's former owner was only slightly taller than an average European male in the 18th century -- roughly 5'8" -- and had brown eyes. This is incompatible with the widely circulated description of Louis XVI: around 6'3" tall and blue-eyed. Moreover, an examination of the blood's ancestry found it to be most related to individuals from Northern Italy. Considering that Louis XVI's heritage is predominantly rooted to present-day Germany and Poland, it is highly unlikely that the blood belongs to the king.

Laypersons may recall Louis XVI as the final king in the thousand-year French monarchy, and the only French king to ever be executed. He was married to the illustrious Marie Antoinette, who's widely credited with uttering the infamous phrase, "Let them eat cake." In fact, there's no evidence that she ever said that.

Source: Olalde, I. et al. Genomic analysis of the blood attributed to Louis XVI (1754–1793), king of France. Sci. Rep. 4, 4666; DOI:10.1038/srep04666 (2014).

(Images: Davide Pettener, Wikimedia Commons)

 

Louis XVI's Blood... Isn't

Newsletter: Share: