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Episode 81
Featuring Safi Bahcall
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Safi Bahcall, a physicist, biotech entrepreneur, and the author of “Loonshots,” about how to nurture the types of crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases, and transform industries.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with Safi Bahcall, a physicist, biotech entrepreneur, and the author of “Loonshots,” a book about how to nurture the types of crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases, and transform industries.

In the early days of World War II, the Third Reich’s commander of submarines Karl Dönitz submitted a memorandum to the German Navy, advocating for a system of submarine warfare that would devastate allied supply lines, merchant vessels, and warships. For a nation with a second-rate navy, this was asymmetrical warfare at its finest. With the implementation of the plan, known as “Rudeltaktik,” allied losses began to rise rapidly, from 750,000 tons of cargo lost in 1939 to 7.8 million in 1942. Every month, U-boats were sinking ships faster than the Allies could build them, and the losses kept mounting. By early 1943, food supplies to Britain had dwindled to two-thirds of normal levels. Less than three months of commercial oil reserves remained: The British were on the verge of defeat.

At just the time when all hope seemed lost in the Battle for the Atlantic, an American physicist by the name of Alfred Loomis appointed to assemble and lead a team of the country’s best engineers and physicists, presented the Army with the first of two timely innovations. When mounted on Americas’ B-24 Liberator bombers these tiny boxes with their microwave antennas could detect the periscopes of surfaced submarines, through daytime cloud cover or fog of night. By the spring of 1943, these long-range bombers, equipped with Loomis’ microwave radar and pulsed-radio navigation were fully operational and actively patrolling the Atlantic. What ensued was a massacre.

In the month of May alone, Allied bombers operating through fog and darkness and who could now see the once invisible German submarines lighting up their oscilloscope screens, sank 41 U-boats nearly one-third of the German commander’s total operational fleet and more in one month than in any of the first three years of the war. Allied shipping losses, in 90 days, decreased by 95 percent: from 514,000 tons in March to 22,000 tons in June. The lanes to resupply Europe had been opened making way for the ground invasion at Normandy only a year later. The Allies turned what had appeared by all accounts to be an imminent loss into the first great Allied victory of the War, all because a small group of scientists working out of an anonymous building at MIT, had the crazy idea to use an unproven technology to turn a German hunting ground into a turkey shoot for the allies and their microwave configured, B-24 bombers that were busy lighting up the Atlantic.

This week, on Hidden Forces, we explore how to nurture the types of crazy ideas that win wars, cure disease, and transform industries, with our guest Safi Bahcall.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Safi Bahcall is a physicist, biotech entrepreneur, and the author of “Loonshohts,” a book about how to nurture the types of crazy ideas that win wars, cure diseases and transform industries. Safi received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, where he worked with renowned theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind and Nobel laureate Bob Laughlin. He was a Miller Fellow in physics at UC Berklee and worked for three years as a consultant for McKinsey before going on to co-found Synta Pharmaceutical, a biotechnology company that specialized in developing new drugs to treat cancer, leading its 2007 IPO and serving as its President & CEO for 13 years.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

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Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.

Sed egestas, ante et vulputate volutpat, eros pede semper est, vitae luctus metus libero eu augue. Morbi purus libero, faucibus adipiscing, commodo quis, gravida id, est. Sed lectus. Praesent elementum hendrerit tortor. Sed semper lorem at felis. Vestibulum volutpat, lacus a ultrices sagittis, mi neque euismod dui, eu pulvinar nunc sapien ornare nisl. Phasellus pede arcu, dapibus eu, fermentum et, dapibus sed, urna.

Morbi interdum mollis sapien. Sed ac risus. Phasellus lacinia, magna a ullamcorper laoreet, lectus arcu pulvinar risus, vitae facilisis libero dolor a purus. Sed vel lacus. Mauris nibh felis, adipiscing varius, adipiscing in, lacinia vel, tellus. Suspendisse ac urna. Etiam pellentesque mauris ut lectus. Nunc tellus ante, mattis eget, gravida vitae, ultricies ac, leo. Integer leo pede, ornare a, lacinia eu, vulputate vel, nisl.

Suspendisse mauris. Fusce accumsan mollis eros. Pellentesque a diam sit amet mi ullamcorper vehicula. Integer adipiscing risus a sem. Nullam quis massa sit amet nibh viverra malesuada. Nunc sem lacus, accumsan quis, faucibus non, congue vel, arcu. Ut scelerisque hendrerit tellus. Integer sagittis. Vivamus a mauris eget arcu gravida tristique. Nunc iaculis mi in ante. Vivamus imperdiet nibh feugiat est.

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