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

Russia's 'Tank Man' Moment

May 9, 2012, 2:25 PM

What is the Big Idea?

A photo of a little boy on a bicycle approaching a row of riot police in Moscow ricocheted around the Internet on Monday after the photographer posted it to Twitter. 

Julia Ioffe, the Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker and Foreign Policy magazine, snapped the picture with her iPhone and gave it a caption that reads: "Russia’s Tianamen (sic) image."

Protestors were marching against Vladimir Putin the day before his inauguration. Rows of police in full riot gear were on deck to keep them within the boundaries of their rally permit. When things got out of control, rocks and bottles were thrown and the police responded with force, according to ABC News.

The little boy weaved through the crowd in his tiny bicycle and stopped in front of the police when Ioffe took the picture. 


What is the Significance?

Tiananmen Square's famous Tank Man photo is now over twenty years old and as far as some are concerned, it is the most "extraordinary picture of the last half of the 20th century," said Timothy Brook, a professor of Chinese history at University of British Columbia. 

"You could look at him as unusually brave, but he probably wasn't," said Brook. "He was probably just an ordinary person who was so disgusted at what he had seen for the last few days."

The boy on the bike might be too young to have a political agenda. He may not even know who Putin is. But iconic images like these become so much more than just a picture. The Tank Man photo "instantly became a symbol of the protests as well as a symbol against oppression worldwide — an anonymous act of defiance seared into our collective consciousnesses," writes The New York Times.


Russia's 'Tank Man' Moment

Newsletter: Share: