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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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Deprovincialized Biology

The Big Idea for Saturday, April 27, 2013

We humans have a bias leads us to expect that if life exists somewhere else in the universe it ought to resemble us, our at the very least our own perceived world.

That is quite a provincial view, argued Carl Sagan, who asserted in the TV series Cosmos that finding even a speck of life on another planet would "deprovincialize biology."

In today's lesson, Ross Pomeroy notes that "the vast randomness inherent to the evolutionary process can give rise to creatures the likes of which we cannot fathom." In other words, if the maxim "Life finds a way" happens to hold true on a distant planet, it likely not to be our way


  1. 1 Daniel Dennett Explores Darwinism and Outer Space
    Daniel Dennett
  2. 2 Life...As We Don't Know It
    Ross Pomeroy Experts' Corner
  3. 3 The Cheap Pleasure of Searching for Aliens
    Freeman Dyson
  4. 4 What Should We Do if We Find E.T.?
    Paul Davies

Deprovincialized Biology

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