"When I First Saw Earth"

Anoushesh Ansari is the world's first female private space explorer, as well as the first astronaut of Iranian descent. Today, in a Big Think interview (conducted in partnership with the DLD conference in Munich), she shares a poetic recollection of her most exciting moment in orbit: looking out and seeing "life emanating against the deep background of space."

When asked about her most frightening moment, however, Ansari demurs, explaining that years of intense preparation made her cool as a cucumber. Sound like an experience you'd want to share? She has good news for you: as a member of the family that sponsors the Ansari X Prize for private spacecraft launches, she reports that we will likely see commercial space flights as soon as 2012, with costs dropping and "an industry being created" thereafter.


As a boundary-breaking explorer, Ansari also describes the message she hopes her space flight sends to women—and men—in the Middle East, and voices her support for the ongoing anti-establishment protests in Iran.

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Universities claim to prepare students for the world. How many actually do it?

Photo: Take A Pix Media / Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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  • The core competencies that students need for success—critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and cross-cultural understanding, for example—should be intentionally taught, not left to chance.
  • These competencies can be summed up with one word: wisdom. True wisdom is the ability to apply one's knowledge appropriately when faced with novel situations.
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Photo:Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • SpaceX was founded in 2002 and was an industry joke for many years. Eighteen years later, it is the first private company to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.
  • Today, SpaceX's Crew Dragon launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS. The journey will take about 19 hours.
  • Dylan Taylor, chairman and CEO of Voyager Space Holdings, looks at SpaceX's journey from startup to a commercial space company with the operating power of a nation-state.
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A new study may help us better understand how children build social cognition through caregiver interaction.

Personal Growth
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  • A new study out of Lund University shows that six-month-olds look and smile more at imitating adults.
  • Researchers hope the data will spur future studies to discover what role caregiver imitation plays in social cognition development.
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