BigQuestion MarkBigQuestions

What is the most important question? What is the question behind that question?

(This site is under construction by you. What is the biggest, most important question you can ask? and it will be added to the BigQuestion list.)

Life is filled with questions. How we answer them is who we are. Questions, questions, questions. How we learn, and when we think we have the answer—one that doesn't lead to other questions— how we stop learning.
Some questions are trivial, some are profound. Some lead to insight, change, revolution, and transformation; others to frustration and atrophy. A “good” question is one that leads to many more questions; a great question is one that sets in motion a cascade of inquiry.

Our questions reflect what we are concerned with, what we are reading, what we value, who we are communicating with, what we are hungry for. Some are “naïve,” as judged by “experts.” Others, often by experts, are so specialized they make sense to only a few people.

Questions have a power to them; they automatically organize the mind in certain directions. Someone asks you a question and it structures your mind in a way that provides an answer. Questions have the power to divide people and/or bring them together.

What is the biggest question you can ask? What is your Big Question?
Buckminster Fuller said “Dare to be naïve.” Please feel free to be so.

The following are just to get you started:
General BigPicture Questions
• What is Life? (Erwin Schrodinger, physicist, contemporary of Einstein, discoverer of wave mechanics and author of a book with this title; most everyone with even a flicker of consciousness has asked this question, but seeing as Erwin put his ask on the cover of a book he gets “credited” here with this question...)
    What is the purpose of life?

• What is the Universe? (Buckminster Fuller, geometer, philosopher)
    What is the origin of the Universe?
      What is humanity's function in the Universe?

• What is consciousness?
    What function does it have?
       What function does it have in the Universe?

• Is there a God?
    What is God?
      Where is God?
        Will S/He answer the phone?

• What do we mean by physical? Metaphysical? (Buckminster Fuller)

• What if you get scared half to death twice? (Steven Wright, philosopher, comedian)

• To be or not to be? (William Shakespeare, poet, philosopher, Francis Bacon and/or half a dozen other people)

• What is the nature of man? (Aristotle, philosopher)

• Why does the Moon follow us? (Zoe Gabel, age 3)

• What is beauty? What is Beauty? Truth?

• What is language? Why don't you understand me?

• How did we get here?

• “What is value?” (J. Doyne Farmer, physicist, Sante Fe Institute)*

• “Why do we decorate?” (Brian Eno, musician)*

• “How different could minds be?” (Richard Nisbett, psychologist, University of Michigan)*

• “How can a small number of genes build a complex mental machine?” (Gary F. Marcus,
cognitive scientist, New York University)*

• “How much can we handle?” (Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer)

• What is intelligence? What is its function in the Universe?

• What is love? What is its function in the Universe?

• Is there life after death?

• What are ethics? How do we know what is right and what is wrong?

• Is the world understandable?

• How do we know?

• Is something real if we can not measure it?
    What makes something real?
      What is real?

• Does caffeine really destroy brain cells?

• Are there any stupid questions?
    What is a stupid question?
      Is stupidity the opposite of smartness or wisdom?

• Is anything impossible?
    What is impossible?
      What is possible?

• What is funny?
    What is the best joke ever told?

• What is the structure of the universe?
    How did that structure develop?

• If there are extra dimensions (beyond the standard four) where are they?

• Is “God” the name we give to the next bigger picture, the unknown or what we don't yet know of how the Universe works?

• Is God a mathematician or a software engineer?

• Where do my thoughts come from? Where do yours come from?

• Who are you? (suggested by Jesus Bojorquez)

Seven questions that keep physicists up at night (from New Scientist Oct. 23, 2009)
• What is reality really?

• Why this universe?

• How does complexity happen?

• What is everything made of?

• Will string theory ever be proved correct?

• What is the singularity?

• How far can physics take us?

Educational BigQuestions
• How do we learn?

• What is a well educated person? What should everyone know?

• How do we measure success?

“Is it conceivable that the standard curriculum in science and math, crafted in 1893, will still be maintained in the 26,000 high schools of this great nation?” (Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Prize winning physicist)*

Social/Political/Economic BigQuestions
• “Will non-sustainable developments (i.e., atmospheric change, deforestation, fresh water use, etc.) become halted in pleasant ways of our choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice?” (Jared M. Diamond, author Guns, Germs, and Steel)*

• What is the impact of knowing something can work on making it work? If we know the world can be made to work for 100% of humanity, in what way does this bring about change?

• “Can democracy survive complexity?” (Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University)*

• How do we measure success?

• How can we provide everyone in the world with a college level education? What would be the impact of this on the global economy?

• How can we provide everyone on the planet with clean water and a sustainable standard of living? (Suggested by "Moggle1")

• How do humans survive without poisoning ourselves? (Suggested by M. Warek)

• If we could generate effective responses to our nation's our biggest problems —education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment, what would that make possible? (Suggested by Bruce Preville)

Business BigQuestions
• What is business? What role does it play/what function does it perform for the world?

• How do we measure success? How should it be measured?

• Is increasing shareholder value the only or main purpose of enterprise? What role does business have beyond making money?

• Can business be an agent for transformation in the world? Can business play a role in meeting the basic human needs of the four billion people at the base of the global economic pyramid?

• How do I grow my company in ways that improve the world?

• Is it possible for multinational companies to develop and successfully market products for the base of the global economic pyramid?

Send in your BigQuestion and we will add it to our list.

* All * questions from Edge: The World Question Center
For a list of questions being asked right now on the Internet see here.