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

Abstract Thinking

The Big Idea for Saturday, February 15, 2014

"What is it that distinguishes us from cavemen?" asks the mathematician Edward Frenkel. "I would say it’s the level of abstraction that we can reach."

Why do we spend so much time teaching a skill that is best left to computers even as we continue to get such dismal results? U.S. students are dramatically underachieving in this key STEM subject. But let's stop all of the hand-wringing and focus on teaching a deeper understanding of math, Conrad Wolfram has argued. This type of learning involves key skills such as posing the right questions and turning real world problems into math formulations. That's what the computers can't do. That's what we need students to excel at if we hope to get ahead in "the computational knowledge economy" of the future. 

"Abstraction is king in this brave new world," Frenkel says, "and the key to abstraction is mathematics." 


  1. 1 Mathematics: The Beauty of Abstraction
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 Lessons in Abstraction from Galileo
    Big Think Editors Think Tank
  3. 3 Reinventing Math for the Computational Knowledge Economy
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  4. 4 Math is the Mind of God
    Michio Kaku Dr. Kaku's Universe

Abstract Thinking

Newsletter: Share: