Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

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National Bestseller

How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

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 ideas to help all of us unlock our potential to change the world.

Praise

“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, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow

“Who knew that one idea could connect naval battles, chirping crickets, and the birth of modern science? If The Da Vinci Code and Freakonomics had a child together, it would be called Loonshots.”

- Senator Bob Kerrey, Medal of Honor recipient, former governor of Nebraska and president of The New School

“A witty, invigorating exploration of human behaviour and discovery.”

- Nature

“An ambitious and entertaining effort … Bahcall makes the whole idea sing.”

- Financial Times

14 Books Everyone Will Be Reading in 2019

- Business Insider

“A brilliant and wonderfully entertaining book, an unstoppable read, full of surprises and rich with insight.”

- Richard Preston, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Hot Zone

“Riveting … fresh ideas and practical solutions—an unusual combination of psychology and physics.”

- Amy C. Edmondson, Professor at Harvard Business School, author of The Fearless Organization

“Wonderful … explores the beauty, quirkiness, and complexity of ideas … you need to read this book.”

- Siddhartha Mukherjee, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author of The Emperor of All Maladies

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