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

#1 Most Recommended Book of the Year
-Bloomberg Survey of CEOs and Entrepreneurs

Loonshots reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs.

Bahcall, a physicist and entrepreneur, shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing new ideas to 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 a new kind of science can help us become the initiators, rather than the victims, of innovative surprise.

Over the past decade, researchers have been applying the tools and techniques of this new science—the science of phase transitions—to understand how birds flock, fish swim, brains work, people vote, diseases erupt, and ecosystems collapse. Loonshots is the first to apply these tools to the spread of breakthrough ideas. Bahcall distills these insights into practical lessons creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries can use to change our world.

Along the way, readers will learn how chickens saved millions of lives, what James Bond and Lipitor have in common, what the movie Imitation Game got wrong about WWII, and what really killed Pan Am, Polaroid, and the Qing Dynasty.

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“If The Da Vinci Code and Freakonomics had a child together, it would be called Loonshots.” —Senator Bob Kerrey

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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 groundbreaking book that spans industries and time.”

- Newsweek

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

- Financial Times

“Safi hits all the right notes: the rhythm is right, the humor is right, the scope is right  … everything is right.”

- Robert Laughlin, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, author of A Different Universe

“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  

“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

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