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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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Topic: Becoming a Research Scientist

Jeff Friedman:  Well, actually as a kid, once I concluded I would never be a professional athlete I really wanted to be a veterinarian but in the world I grew up in the highest form of human endeavor was to be a doctor. My father was a radiologist and so there was always this push to be a doctor and so I entered a six-year medical program when I finished high school and finished my training pretty young, and it was only at the point at which I finished my medical training that I began to question whether or not that was what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. I didn’t really know frankly what I was going to do other than I just didn’t see medical practice for the next 30, 40 years as being where I was headed. One of my professors where I went to medical school thought I might like research and referred me to a colleague of his at Rockefeller University where I now work so I visited her lab, spent a year and decided I really liked it and have stuck with it. A friend of mine once referred to me as the accidental scientist, which was applied shortly after Anne Tyler wrote The Accidental Tourist.


Becoming a Research Scientist

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