Based in Brooklyn, Packy is interested in Community, Real estate, Education, Strategy, and Philly Sports.

Loonshots Learning Playlist

Loonshots Learning Playlist

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Welcome to the Loonshots Learning Playlist!

As I write this, I am sitting in the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. Despite working across Bryant Park from this place for three years, this is my first time inside. Why now?

One of many surprising things that I learned from Safi Bahcall's Loonshots is that a disproportionate amount of world-changing ideas are born in this library. It is where Pan Am's Juan Trippe discovered the island in the Pacific that enabled trans-Pacific flight, and where Polaroid's Edwin Land unearthed the key to unlocking the polarizers that gave his company its name, and product, in dog urine. (Hint: remember these facts, they may show up in the quizzes!)

Libraries are our most powerful symbol for learning. It is my hope that by actively engaging with the Loonshots learning playlist - reading the book, watching the videos and listening to the podcasts knowing that you will be quizzed - you will be able to better learn the lessons and leave this course having retained more than you would by reading the book alone.

I created this learning playlist on Loonshots because it is the most information-rich and actionable book I have read in the past year. Once you are introduced to S-type and P-type loonshots, False Fails and Moses Traps, you will begin to see them everywhere. And for those of you who are innovating in your field, or hope to, Loonshots provides ideas and frameworks that you can immediately apply to your organization (and I’ll ask you to share how at the end)!

Here’s how the course works:

You can take this course after having read Loonshots or in real-time while you read it. Each chapter has a section below, each with additional resources - youtube videos, podcasts, blog posts and articles - and each section ends with a link to a quiz. The quizzes are there to help you make sure that you’ve locked the information in. I’m doing this for your own good - research shows that testing improves retention!

In addition to reading the book, the course should take about 8-10 hours to complete, including reading, watching and listening to the additional resources and taking the quizzes. I hope that you find it to be time well-spent. If you complete the course, including the final assignment, I will send you a Loonshots Diploma:

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Let’s begin!


This section will be based on the Introduction to Loonshots, along with two videos from

What is a Loonshot?

Innovation is a Group Effort

Chapter 1: How Loonshots Won a War

This section is based on Chapter 1 of Loonshots and Vannevar Bush’s 1945 report to the President, Science: The Endless Frontier.

Science: The Endless Frontier

Chapter 2: The Surprising Fragility of the Loonshot
This section is based on Chapter 2 of Loonshots, and Safi Bahcall’s interview on The Tim Ferriss Show.

Safi Bahcall on The Tim Ferriss Show

You can read the full transcript of the interview by clicking the link below.

Chapter 3: The Two Types of Loonshots: Trippe vs. Crandall

This quiz is based on Chapter 3 of Loonshots. To add some color to the chapter's protagonists, check out the videos below:

Juan Trippe Induction into the Aviation Hall of Fame

Bob Crandall Induction into the San Diego Air and Space Hall of Fame

90 Seconds with Robert Crandall

Chapter 4: Edwin Land and the Moses Trap

This quiz is based on Chapter 4 of Loonshots. To get a more visual understanding of how Edwin Land invented the Polaroid camera, watch The Polaroid Camera: Where Did it Come From.

The Polaroid Camera: Where Did it Come From?

Chapter 5: Escaping the Moses Trap

This quiz is based on Chapter 5 in Loonshots. For additional background, watch Safi Bahcall talk about how Apple escaped the Moses Trap on Sarder Author Talks.

What is the Moses Trap?

Interlude: The Importance of Being Emergent

This quiz is based on the Interlude between Parts I and II in Loonshots and Bahcall's post in Scientific American, The Science of Innovation. This section will introduce you to the key concepts that appear throughout Part II.

The Science of Innovation

Chapter 6: Phase Transitions, I: Marriage, Forest Fires and Terrorists

This quiz is based on Chapter 6 of Loonshots and Kevin Simler's Going Critical post on Melting Asphalt.

Going Critical

 Quiz: Chapter 6

Let’s Get Critical (Quiz)

Chapter 7: Phase Transitions II: The Magic Number 150

This quiz is based on Chapter 7 of Loonshots, the video, What is the magic number?, and the video Why Matching People to Projects Matters.

What is the magic number?

Why Matching People to Projects Matters

Chapter 8: The Fourth Rule

This quiz is based on Chapter 8 of Loonshots and the video 60 Years of DARPA from CBS News.

60 Years of DARPA

Quiz: Chapter 8

Four Rules, Eight Quiz

Chapter 9: Why the World Speaks English

This quiz is based on Chapter 9 in Loonshots and the video, Simon Winchester on the Needham Question.

Simon Winchester on the Needham Question

Afterword: Loonshots vs. Disruption

This section is based on the Afterword to Loonshots.

Quiz: Afterword

Last Quiz Here!

Final Assignment

Congratulations on completing the 12 quizzes! We hope you learned a lot, and enjoyed yourself in the process. In order to earn your Loonshots diploma, please complete the following assignment, which will serve to help you synthesize and apply the lessons from Loonshots.

How can you apply the lessons from Loonshots to your organization?

Please write one page in a Google Doc or website and submit a link below. We will review and share our comments!

Finally, if you have any feedback on the course, I would love to hear it! Message me @packym on twitter or leave a comment in the form below.

Name *
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