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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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Today's Big Idea: ROI

The Big Idea for Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Throughout its history, NASA has been criticized -- often unfairly -- as a drain on public resources. Let's spend money "down here," the argument goes, not "up there."

And yet, closer examination shows that NASA not only pays for itself but also stimulates the economy through the creation of profitable products. Moreover, scientists such as Neil deGrasse Tyson have made the point loud and clear that NASA also provides intangible benefits, by putting the U.S. at the forefront of innovation. Fully funding NASA, Tyson argues, would inspire a generation of innovators.

So this is a good discussion to have during an election year, as the issue of funding for NASA was brought to the forefront by the successful landing of the Mars Curiosity space probe. The cost: $2.5 billion. The return on investment? We're still taking stock of that, but here are the early results: a surge of interest in NASA and a desire to take on further challenges that are seemingly impossible. 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Wheels Down on Mars. Now It's Time to Reinvent America, Says Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Our Moral Imperative to Explore
    Peter Diamandis
  3. 3 What’s Another $20 Million?
    Burt Rutan
  4. 4 NASA Goes for the Gold with Curiosity
    Michio Kaku Dr. Kaku's Universe
 

Today's Big Idea: ROI

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