A physicist explains what the science of phase transitions can teach us about nurturing innovation
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A moonshot is an ambitious goal, but physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall is interested in what he calls “loonshots,” or the neglected, unhinged ideas that then go on to change the world.
In 2011, Bahcall — who has a doctorate in physics and founded a company focused on drug discovery — started working with then-President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on a project to shape the future of national research. On the first day, the chairman of the group said that the goal was to “write the next generation of the Vannevar Bush report.” Bahcall had never heard of Vannevar Bush, an engineer and inventor who led the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II and played a crucial role in…