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

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What was your first experiment?

Adam Bly: The one that was probably most memorable – this was probably one of the first experiments – was . . . was a little bit later in life. It was starting when I was, I don’t know, 13, 14. And I was . . . This was for a science fair project, and I was a total science fair nerd growing up, and did science fairs every year and loved it. And I . . . I was researching this . . . this drug called Melatonin, and I was kind of interested in its properties in terms of affecting the circadian rhythms and pineal gland of these unicellular organisms called rotifers. So rotifers are basically like these black globs that grow in swamps. And so I decided to take this room off of our kitchen and turn it into my lab – not to everyone’s great pleasure in my house – and had these Petri dishes set up with different rotifers. And I would put different amounts of Melatonin and different amount of the chemicals. And so it created this little kind of lab set up with a microscope, and it was one of the first science fair projects – turning the kitchen into a microbiology lab.

I always knew I wanted to be in science. I think from an early age, from probably 13, 14; from just kind of fooling around in the backyard and, you know, causing things to blow up or to caught . . . catch on fire; to look at something under a microscope or look at something under a magnifying glass. Just kind of seeing, watching, looking at ants. That was highly pleasurable. Lifting up this rock we had. There was always just a ton of ants – and seeing how they moved around and kind of build a little community down there. It always fascinated me. I loved looking at pictures of science, and it was as much the kind of aesthetics of science that appealed to me as anything else. I’ve always been fascinated by how science looks, the architecture and design of science as much as the more philosophical ideas in science. In fact it was an image of a protein that was done . . . So an x-ray crystallography. So basically looking at the structure of a protein – of this particular protein that’s responsible for how our cells adhere to one another. And it turned out that this molecule looks like a zipper – a zipper in between our cells, sort of a molecular zipper. And we’re seeing an image . . . an x-ray crystallography image of that protein complex that got me on a path for a few years of doing biochemical research and cancer research. It was an image. It was sort of the architecture of this protein that was just so compelling and overwhelmingly satisfying in kind of a visceral, kind of romantic way, and an aesthetic way that led me to then try and understand it further and in a more deeply biochemical way. So it’s always been as much the language, and aesthetics, and culture of science as it has been the actual scientific ideas themselves that have excited me.

 

Recorded on: 10/17/07

 

 

 

 

What was your first experim...

Newsletter: Share: