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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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DIY Health

The Big Idea for Saturday, November 16, 2013

The growing evidence that vitamin D—if not sunlight—is important for physical wellness is far from new.

Only when the sun is high in the sky (never in winter far from the equator) is light at its most powerful in the short, non-visible spectrum, those wavelengths best able to make vitamin D. In recent years, the dangers of darkness and vitamin D deficiency have been creeping into considerations about natural light, but 80 years ago, the conversation would have been far different, far more alarmist, and far more embracing of our nearest star.

And so today we take a look backwards. As Daniel Freund writes, "the historian’s perspective is by definition backwards looking, an uncomfortable fit for those seeking conclusions about the present, but I feel comfortable saying that for all the concern about skin cancer, people still love the sun." 


  1. 1 Surviving the Dark Days of Winter
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  2. 2 Vitamin D, Sun, and Cancer
    Kas Thomas Devil in the Data
  3. 3 Lifestyle Versus Genetics
    H. Robert Silverstein
  4. 4 Get Fat, Get Cancer
    Kas Thomas Devil in the Data

DIY Health

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