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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.

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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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Apocalypse, Delayed

The Big Idea for Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Most people will live a full life without witnessing a catastrophic event, and that fact has perhaps made us all too complacent. We tend to think of the cosmos as serene, yet it is full of danger. For instance, right now a near earth asteroid is stalking earth. By stalking, in fact, asteroid 2012 DA14 is traveling on an orbit that will draw it dangerously close to Earth in February, 2013. 

While we appear to be safe for now, who is watching the skies and will we be ready to respond in time if an asteroid is discovered to be on collision course with us? 

When the so-called Tunguska event occurred in Siberia in 1908, no one saw the comet coming until it plunged into the atmosphere. During the Cold War, scientists like Carl Sagan warned that if such an event were to happen it might easily be mistaken for a nuclear attack, triggering the destruction of the planet. 

So how prepared are we today? The recently discovered threat of asteroid 2012 DA14 ought to scare us out of complacency. And at the very least we should review our response options. That is what Big Think has compiled in today's lesson. 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Asteroid 2012 DA14 Won't Kill Us (Yet), But Ought to Scare Us Into Action
    Daniel Honan Re-Envision
  2. 2 The Sky IS falling. Should We Worry?
    David Ropeik Risk: Reason and Reality
  3. 3 An Asteroid Could Smash Us
    Edward Sion
  4. 4 The World Could End This Way: Simulation of an Asteroid Collision
    Daniel Honan
 

Apocalypse, Delayed

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