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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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The Big Idea for Saturday, July 19, 2014

It is tempting to say that smart, creative people have no distinct set of character traits other than being smart and creative. However, James Gleick, who has written acclaimed biographies of Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman, finds a certain quality he calls "aloneness" in both men, despite their many other superficial personality differences. 

Being "alone in their heads," Gleick says, means having "the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals like me to grasp." While geniuses might be good teachers, or good communicators, they truly excel in isolation, where they exercise "a kind of passion for abstraction that doesn't lend itself to easy communication."



  1. 1 The Common Character Trait of Geniuses
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 The Question of Genius
    Sam Wang
  3. 3 Where Does Genius Come From?
    David Shenk
  4. 4 Is Scientific Genius Extinct?
    Ross Pomeroy Experts' Corner


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