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

The "Real" Carl Sagan

March 17, 2014, 3:00 PM
Bt_sagan_3_final

Did you watch "Cosmos" last night? The show was trending on Twitter during its broadcast, which is a good sign that television watchers crave shows that make them smarter. As we've reported here on Big Think, the return of "Cosmos" is sorely needed at a time when evolution vs. creationism is an actual debate.

While Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing an excellent job taking the torch from his mentor, we want to look back on, who was the real Carl Sagan? National Geographic answers that question in this must-read profile of the pioneering scientist.

It turns out that not only was Sagan a nurturing mentor who deeply cared about his students, he was also a big picture thinker who wasn't afraid to go against the grain.

From National Geographic:

"He worked very hard, 18-hour days. He had a tremendous appetite for his work," says [William] Poundstone, [author of Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos]. "He was made for television, sure, and he looked very relaxed and normal in jeans when other scientists didn't. But there was a lot more to him."

As a scientist, Sagan made a real mark on planetary science in the early 1970s as a young Harvard professor, "at a time when planetary science was a bit of a backwater," Poundstone says.

Sagan first predicted that the greenhouse effect made the atmosphere of Venus hot enough to melt lead, at a time when some scientists still speculated that its clouds might hide oceans, says Morrison.

Sagan also identified dark-shaded regions on Mars as highlands and identified lighter areas as desert plains marked by dust storms. Those storms later bedeviled NASA's Mars Viking landers in the 1970s.

"He was a really great big-picture scientist, great with back-of-the envelope calculations, who could see the fundamental premises of science and observations," says Morrison.

To gain more insight into this remarkable scientist, head over to National Geographic.

 

The "Real" Carl Sagan

Newsletter: Share: