Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
This event includes a book signing
July 23, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed physicist and biotech engineer SAFI BAHCALL for a discussion of his debut book, Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries.
What do James Bond and Lipitor have in common? What can we learn about human nature and world history 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. 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.
Praise for Loonshots
“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
"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. This book is a must read for anyone in business, education, or public service." ―Senator Bob Kerrey, Medal of Honor recipient, former Navy SEAL and president of The New School
“With riveting stories set in the most unexpected times and places, Loonshots shows how group dynamics and workplace politics conspire against the psychological safety people need in order to boldly share their wildest ideas. Bahcall's fresh ideas and practical solutions―an unusual combination of psychology and physics―should change the way any person or team sets out to change the world.” ―Amy C. Edmondson, author of The Fearless Organization and professor at Harvard Business School
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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