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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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Deep Time

The Big Idea for Sunday, January 26, 2014

We often think of museums as places that collect the dust of the past, not the guide to the future. Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History, sees museums much differently. The current exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History called "Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code" aims to enhance our understanding of the full diversity of life on this planet.

The story of our planet, the deep time of the planet - which goes back 4.567 billion years - represents an incredible narrative about how we came to be and how our world works today, Johnson says. 

Since our knowledge about what is happening to the planet right now is evolving rapidly, Johnson says that the concept of deep time "becomes surprisingly relevant to what I call the deep future. Many of the understandings of how we’ll deal with the next hundred years are embedded in the deep time of our planet’s history."


  1. 1 Evolution is Not an Obvious or Intuitive Concept
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 The History of Life on Earth in Three Minutes
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  3. 3 Which Came First, Life or Earth?
    Kas Thomas Devil in the Data
  4. 4 Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Deny Evolution
    Bill Nye

Deep Time

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