Safi Bahcall Loonshots

ISBN 13: 9781250225610

Loonshots

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"This book has everything: new ideas, bold insights, entertaining history and convincing analysis. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world." --Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow

What do James Bond and Lipitor have in common? Why do traffic jams appear out of nowhere on highways? What can we learn about innovation from a glass of water? In Loonshots, physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs.

Drawing on the science of phase transitions, Bahcall shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Mountains of print have been written about culture. Loonshots identifies the small shifts in structure that control this transition, the same way that temperature controls the change from water to ice.

Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall shows how this new kind of science helps us understand the behavior of companies and the fate of empires. Loonshots distills these insights into lessons for creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries everywhere.

Over the past decade, researchers have been applying the tools and techniques of phase transitions to understand how birds flock, fish swim, brains work, people vote, criminals behave, ideas spread, diseases erupt, and ecosystems collapse. If twentieth-century science was shaped by the search for fundamental laws, like quantum mechanics and gravity, the twenty-first will be shaped by this new kind of science. Loonshots is the first to apply these tools to help all of us unlock our potential to create and nurture the crazy ideas that change the world.

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Review:

"A wonderful book that explores the beauty, quirkiness and complexity of ideas, Loonshots will both educate and entertain you. If you care about ideas -- especially new and out-of-the-box ones -- you need to read this book." --Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

"Safi Bahcall extends the principles of emergence to the behavior of groups, creating an entirely new way of thinking about why some succeed and others fail. Safi hits all the right notes: the rhythm is right, the humor is right, the scope is right ... everything is right. Loonshots should be required reading for anyone serious about changing the world for the better." --Robert Laughlin, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, author of A Different Universe

"Loonshots is a brilliant and wonderfully entertaining book, an unstoppable read, full of surprises and rich with insight into how people create and nurture things that change the world. It's also an important book. Bahcall, a physicist and biotech entrepreneur, is unfolding the secrets behind successes everywhere." --Richard Preston, New York Times bestselling author of The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees

About the Author:

SAFI BAHCALL received his BA summa cum laude in physics from Harvard and his PhD from Stanford. After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, he co-founded Synta Pharmaceuticals--a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer--and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he served on the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology working group on the future of national research.

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