What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: Does it make sense to ask what preceded the Big Bang?

Katie Freese: I think people have the misconception that the big bang is the universe starting from a point.  In fact, it is very different from that.  Probably you know that the Universe is expanding, so if we go backwards in time then you can watch the Universe contract as you go backwards in time.  So for example, if you took a tabletop then any two points would get closer together, but the points that are way far apart if you had…  Let’s say it’s an infinite tabletop, so as these points get closer and closer together you still have a tabletop that is infinite in extent.  It’s not like everything comes into one point, but eventually you reach such a high density.  Things are so compact and right on top of each other that we lose our description.  Physics fails.  That is what the big bang is, so it’s actually we would need to have a theory of quantum mechanics and gravity simultaneously to be able to discuss physics going backwards in time any further, so it is really a high density situation that we call the big bang, but there is really no explosion.  There is no bang.  There is no singular point.  But so yes, it does make sense to ask well what happens when you reach that density and that is what people are trying to do in theories of quantum gravity such as string theory or well some of the cosmology that I’ve done also is in the context of brains where our observable universe is living on a three dimensional surface in a higher dimensional universe and there could be other brains out there and how these brains intersect one another and their motions and so on has been…  So there are different avenues to try to push back our level of knowledge and they are very active, but very difficult.

Everything was more dense and then there is a certain point where… which we call the big bang and it’s from that point forward that we start our clocks, so that’s…  And then so and we say the universe is 13.7 billion years old is relative to that very high density situation.

Recorded May 7, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

More from the Big Idea for Wednesday, February 06 2013

Being and Nothingness

At the heart of all mythologies is the attempt to answer the question "Where do we come from?" and its corollary, "Why are we here?" If the answer to the first question is "nothing," than many of ... Read More…


What Came Before the "Big B...

Newsletter: Share: