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Long Now Boston - Long-term Loonshots: The Science of Phase Transitions and World History

  • CIC Cambridge, Venture Cafe, 5th fl 1 Broadway Cambridge, MA, 02142 United States (map)

Doors open @ 6pm -- Come early and meet other Long Now thinkers – Presentations start @ 7pm

A Long Now Boston Conversation with Safi Bahcall, Author of Loonshots (2019).

Cool a fluid the right amount and very interesting things begin happening in the phase transition between liquid and solid. Structures begin to proliferate yet energy and information continues to flow, sometimes with far greater efficiency. The same concept applies to human institutions. In the best, creative inspiration flows quickly and innovations proliferate, unimpeded by rigid hierarchies and processes. Yet when a winning innovation appears, the institution draws on those strengths and quickly drives innovations to scale.

Safi refers to these two phases as Loonshot and Franchise, and he argues that both are essential, yet the tension between them is remarkably difficult to sustain. The most momentous transformations in history were loonshots that almost failed.

The most advanced global empires coming into the second millennium - China, Islam, and India - were well positioned for, but completely missed, the scientific revolution that swept through post-feudal Europe. Why? Because Europe was in a liquid phase and served as home to a succession of loonshot nurseries that would never have survived under imperial hegemony.

So what do our institutions, including governments, businesses, non-profits --- even our nascent Long Now organizations --- need to do to sustain this loonshot capacity? Are the hugely successful capitalist franchises and dominant global superpowers still fluid enough to continue promoting loonshot nurseries?

Come join the conversation with Safi Bahcall, author of Loonshots, and other Long Now Boston enthusiasts. Be a part of the solution.

NOTE: Loonshots will be available for sale before and after the presentation and Safi will be happy to sign them.

Among the questions the speaker will address:

  • Why did modern science ignite in 17th-century Western Europe when China, Islam, and India had been so much more advanced for 1,000 years?

  • How does understanding the behavior we see in a glass of water help us understand the fate of companies and empires?

  • How can we use these insights to help our institutions shape the next 1,000 or 10,000 years?

Join the conversation and be part of the solution.

$15 in advance // $20 at the door. Students w/ID admitted free.

Audience participation is encouraged.

If Eventbrite tickets sell out, seating for walk-ups will unlikely be available due to room size.

About the speaker:

Safi Bahcall is a second-generation physicist (the son of two astrophysicists) and a biotech entrepreneur. He received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his PhD in physics from Stanford. After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, Safi co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO 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 worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research. He lives with his wife and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

RSVP HERE

Earlier Event: September 9
Mentor Exchange
Later Event: September 10
UK Cell and Gene Therapy Reception