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Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (Perennial Classics)

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Gary Zukav has written "the Bible" for those who are curious about the mind-expanding discoveries of advanced physics, but who have no scientific background. Like a Wu Li Master who would teach us wonder for the falling petal before speaking of gravity, Zukav writes in beautifully clear language—with no mathematical equations—opening our minds to the exciting new theories Gary Zukav has written "the Bible" for those who are curious about the mind-expanding discoveries of advanced physics, but who have no scientific background. Like a Wu Li Master who would teach us wonder for the falling petal before speaking of gravity, Zukav writes in beautifully clear language—with no mathematical equations—opening our minds to the exciting new theories that are beginning to embrace the ultimate nature of our universe...Quantum mechanics, relativity, and beyond to the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect and Bell's theorem. At an Esalen Institute meeting in 1976, tai chi master Al Huang said that the Chinese word for physics is Wu Li, "patterns of organic energy." Journalist Gary Zukav and the others present developed the idea of physics as the dance of the Wu Li Masters--the teachers of physical essence. Zukav explains the concept further: The Wu Li Master dances with his student. The Wu Li Master does not teach, but the student learns. The Wu Li Master always begins at the center, the heart of the matter.... This book deals not with knowledge, which is always past tense anyway, but with imagination, which is physics come alive, which is Wu Li.... Most people believe that physicists are explaining the world. Some physicists even believe that, but the Wu Li Masters know that they are only dancing with it. The "new physics" of Zukav's 1979 book comprises quantum theory, particle physics, and relativity. Even as these theories age they haven't percolated all that far into the collective consciousness; they're too far removed from mundane human experience not to need introduction. The Dancing Wu Li Masters remains an engaging, accessible way to meet the most profound and mind-altering insights of 20th-century science. --Mary Ellen Curtin


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Gary Zukav has written "the Bible" for those who are curious about the mind-expanding discoveries of advanced physics, but who have no scientific background. Like a Wu Li Master who would teach us wonder for the falling petal before speaking of gravity, Zukav writes in beautifully clear language—with no mathematical equations—opening our minds to the exciting new theories Gary Zukav has written "the Bible" for those who are curious about the mind-expanding discoveries of advanced physics, but who have no scientific background. Like a Wu Li Master who would teach us wonder for the falling petal before speaking of gravity, Zukav writes in beautifully clear language—with no mathematical equations—opening our minds to the exciting new theories that are beginning to embrace the ultimate nature of our universe...Quantum mechanics, relativity, and beyond to the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect and Bell's theorem. At an Esalen Institute meeting in 1976, tai chi master Al Huang said that the Chinese word for physics is Wu Li, "patterns of organic energy." Journalist Gary Zukav and the others present developed the idea of physics as the dance of the Wu Li Masters--the teachers of physical essence. Zukav explains the concept further: The Wu Li Master dances with his student. The Wu Li Master does not teach, but the student learns. The Wu Li Master always begins at the center, the heart of the matter.... This book deals not with knowledge, which is always past tense anyway, but with imagination, which is physics come alive, which is Wu Li.... Most people believe that physicists are explaining the world. Some physicists even believe that, but the Wu Li Masters know that they are only dancing with it. The "new physics" of Zukav's 1979 book comprises quantum theory, particle physics, and relativity. Even as these theories age they haven't percolated all that far into the collective consciousness; they're too far removed from mundane human experience not to need introduction. The Dancing Wu Li Masters remains an engaging, accessible way to meet the most profound and mind-altering insights of 20th-century science. --Mary Ellen Curtin

30 review for Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (Perennial Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The happiest thought I take out of this book is the fact that science is no longer taking a direction opposite to that of religion, philosophy or spirituality - all the noblest endeavors of mankind were fundamentally tied together after all. It was just that we, with our obsessive propensity to classify and divide had made the artificial boundaries. The only complaint about the book is the fact that it goes into needless depth about the fundamentals of classical physics and then skims over the "n The happiest thought I take out of this book is the fact that science is no longer taking a direction opposite to that of religion, philosophy or spirituality - all the noblest endeavors of mankind were fundamentally tied together after all. It was just that we, with our obsessive propensity to classify and divide had made the artificial boundaries. The only complaint about the book is the fact that it goes into needless depth about the fundamentals of classical physics and then skims over the "new physics" to an extent. Also, Zukav seems to feel that repeating an idea or concept three times is the best way to convey it to the lay person. Except for these peeves, it was magnificent to look at Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg etc not as scientists discussing theories and experiments but as philosophers arguing over the nature of reality and mysticism. The reader has to keep in mind that this is by no means a very up to date book and Einstein and his contemporaries star in the narrative more than CERN or Hadrons or Higgs. But this does not take away the fact that the new theories, though radically departed from what was "new physics" at the time of publishing of this book, still corroborates his base arguments. That too in even more weirder and psychedelic ways. The more I read in the realm of new physics, the more I am convinced that all truly fundamental scientific theories tend to follow a life cycle - rejection, ridicule, incredulity, acceptance, dogmatism, degeneration, overthrowal, and finally resurrection. This is the case with all true ideas - so it might be with our vedic and oriental philosophies too. The physics classes and laboratories of this century might have meditation lessons and yogic experiments... Science might finally grow up enough to explain to lay people what only mystics and yogis could experience - we might finally evolve the language and the concepts to explain and understand the structure of the universe without experiencing it - we might know nirvana without feeling it. Is that an uplifting or depressing thought, I am not sure.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Yesterday, I read some scathing comments about this book, and the closely related The Tao of Physics, in Woit's Not Even Wrong. Apparently, there used to a be an approach to quantum mechanics called S-matrix theory, which was popular among left-leaning physicists in the early 70s. Woit refers to "The People's Republic of Berkeley". It was something to do with "abolition of the aristocracy of particles", which I must say I didn't completely get, but you can see how this might appeal. As I underst Yesterday, I read some scathing comments about this book, and the closely related The Tao of Physics, in Woit's Not Even Wrong. Apparently, there used to a be an approach to quantum mechanics called S-matrix theory, which was popular among left-leaning physicists in the early 70s. Woit refers to "The People's Republic of Berkeley". It was something to do with "abolition of the aristocracy of particles", which I must say I didn't completely get, but you can see how this might appeal. As I understand it, the basic idea was not to talk about possibly intangible interactions between particles like quarks, whose existence is hard to demonstrate directly, but only about the objectively measurable scattering matrix. Anyway, according to Woit, S-matrix theory never quite worked, and when quantum chromodynamics and the Standard Model came in, around 1974, it pretty much disappeared. But Capra, in The Tao of Physics, still clung to the S-matrix ideas, and every time the book was reprinted he would add forewords and afterwords that were more and more out of touch with reality, claiming that history had shown that the S-matrix approach was the one true way, when in fact QCD had knocked it out of the park. Then Zukav followed Capra, and wrote this book. Woit, evidently tearing his hair out, says that both books are still selling well, and that, although S-matrix theory is now completely discredited, it embarrassingly lives on as "nutty New Age philosophy". I read Zukav's book in the early 80s, and I wasn't that impressed, though I had no idea that it was this much at odds with mainstream physics. I thought he was just presenting mainstream ideas in a poetic way. A frightening story about how careful you need to be with popular science texts.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane in Australia

    This book was first published in 1979, much has transpired since then, so it is dated. In layman's terms, the author compares Eastern beliefs, psychology, and quantums physics. Interesting book, but I wasn't as 'wowed' by it as some were. "If this is so, then the distinction between scientists, poets, painters, and writers is not clear. In fact, it is possible that scientists, poets, painters, and writers are all members of the same family of people whose gift it is by nature to take those things This book was first published in 1979, much has transpired since then, so it is dated. In layman's terms, the author compares Eastern beliefs, psychology, and quantums physics. Interesting book, but I wasn't as 'wowed' by it as some were. "If this is so, then the distinction between scientists, poets, painters, and writers is not clear. In fact, it is possible that scientists, poets, painters, and writers are all members of the same family of people whose gift it is by nature to take those things which we call commonplace and to re-present them to us in such ways that our self-imposed limitations are expanded. Those people in whom this gift is especially pronounced, we call geniuses." 3 Stars = I'm glad I read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lane Wilkinson

    I can't even dignify this book with an inclusion on my 'science' bookshelf. Surely, the most dangerous rhetoric is that which sounds plausible. 'Dancing Wu Li Masters' does the whole "Ancient Chinese Secret" treatment of particle physics that was so popular during the 1970s. Unfortunately, I worry that too many who read this bestseller were irrevocably taken with an esoteric, transcendental, and ultimately fallacious interpretation of contemporary science.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This is a book that lightly, and perhaps appropriately, suggests a connection between eastern religions and the developments in 20th century physics, notably Einstein's theories of relativity, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and the collective effort, from Max Planck through Einstein to Nils Bohr and many others, to develop quantum theory, quantum mechanics and other dimensions of "quantum" reality. The fundamental issue is that logic breaks down in the quantum world. This is explained well. This is a book that lightly, and perhaps appropriately, suggests a connection between eastern religions and the developments in 20th century physics, notably Einstein's theories of relativity, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and the collective effort, from Max Planck through Einstein to Nils Bohr and many others, to develop quantum theory, quantum mechanics and other dimensions of "quantum" reality. The fundamental issue is that logic breaks down in the quantum world. This is explained well. Quantum reality deals in probabilities, not certainties, and phenomena that could be waves or could be quanta or particles, depending on when they are measured. There is a huge quotient of the subjective in quantum thinking, which is to say that the observer alters that which is observed, and that which is observed has a somewhat uncanny similarity to the lightning fast disjunctures that characterize the human mind. We think about one thing, then another. We flash from mood to mood. We imagine impossible things. We dream in gravity-defying dimensions that also take us back in time. The eastern religions enter the picture describing everything that we take note of as illusion...or a veil...or the Tao...the path...all in motion...all self-transforming...all becoming as opposed to all permanent and present. Sometimes books like this one capture us because we think they will be fairly easy primers, sexed up with lots of provocative speculation. This isn't that kind of book. Its dry and demanding in places, necessarily so. When it was written, string theory wasn't around. A lot of other things weren't around either. But it's still a good book if approached with a certain diligence. There's little doubt that we do live in a quantum world, but we are insufficiently educated to understand that. Breaking the news to the great uneducated public is something Zukav does well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    P

    Made an otherwise complicated subject readily readable for me, even eager for more. The simple analogies and examples created that feeling of an epiphany, as in: "OK, I get it now!" Beautiful. Since it's been over 30 years since I read this, it's time to re-new. Can never know too much about quantum physics. Or its relationship to philosophy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    Well, I read this book at the advice of Jeff Sneider who recommended it highly. I agree. This book, while difficult in places, does lead me to question my view of reality, which has been purely Newtonian (read the book to understand). I'd rate this book right up with Godel, Escher, and Bach. I will think often about it. It may be very well be true, that everyone lives in Aristotle's metaphorical cave, seeing shadows of the essence of reality. Actually, quantum mechanics pretty much says it IS tr Well, I read this book at the advice of Jeff Sneider who recommended it highly. I agree. This book, while difficult in places, does lead me to question my view of reality, which has been purely Newtonian (read the book to understand). I'd rate this book right up with Godel, Escher, and Bach. I will think often about it. It may be very well be true, that everyone lives in Aristotle's metaphorical cave, seeing shadows of the essence of reality. Actually, quantum mechanics pretty much says it IS true. Zukav argues that experiencing reality through, perhaps, meditation and eastern religious metaphors, may lead to a greater degree of "knowing" or enlightenment, as the case may be. He argues that contradictions are inherent in intellect. I can be a scientist using Newtonian physics to make a career, judge student performance and the like, and also believe in God, angels, fairies and so on. Basically, quantum mechanics argues we know really nothing about the essence of reality, so anything could be and maybe anything in actually is real. There's a quote in the book that I will post in my office and spread around my scientific camp, and it's worth thinking and mulling over. "Reality" is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is the worst book ever written. From his completely nonsensical leaps from point to point, to his annoying tendency to follow each mention of "matter" with "(pun?)" to his pseudo-knowledge of quantum mechanics and belief that randomness = free will to his decision not to explain the uncertainty principle in any way that might make sense and make it seem less mystical to his just plain terrible writing and awful, irrelevant quotations I can safely say that this is the worst piece of snake oi This is the worst book ever written. From his completely nonsensical leaps from point to point, to his annoying tendency to follow each mention of "matter" with "(pun?)" to his pseudo-knowledge of quantum mechanics and belief that randomness = free will to his decision not to explain the uncertainty principle in any way that might make sense and make it seem less mystical to his just plain terrible writing and awful, irrelevant quotations I can safely say that this is the worst piece of snake oil I've ever read (granted, I didn't finish it so maybe the last 100 pages were all about how the first half was a complex joke). It also brought back horrific, repressed memories of reading The Holographic Universe (a book in which the author had absolutely no knowledge of how either holographs or the universe might possibly work). If you want quantum mechanics, read QED by Feynman. If you want to believe that electrons are spiritual entities, just go ahead and believe it. But don't rewrite the history of physics to back up your case, it doesn't work. You silly, silly, New Age people, just stop. It's embarrassing. [...although Ben and I did have fun reading parts of it out loud to each other and laughing hysterically:] [ALSO WHY IS EVERY CHAPTER LABELED CHAPTER ONE?!?!:]

  9. 4 out of 5

    Keith Mukai

    This is probably as good as a physics-for-the-layman book can get. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. Far from it, in fact. The strength of the book is Zukav's review of the history of physics. He does a good job setting up and explaining the major breakthroughs so that you, the reader, can appreciate their significance in pretty substantial ways. That's quite a feat. His clarity gets weaker as he starts to go into the weirder aspects of quantum mechanics though. At times he's so eager to jump t This is probably as good as a physics-for-the-layman book can get. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. Far from it, in fact. The strength of the book is Zukav's review of the history of physics. He does a good job setting up and explaining the major breakthroughs so that you, the reader, can appreciate their significance in pretty substantial ways. That's quite a feat. His clarity gets weaker as he starts to go into the weirder aspects of quantum mechanics though. At times he's so eager to jump to the scientific and philosophical ramifications of quantum mechanics that he sprints past the reader's understanding. I re-read and re-read and re-read passages until I finally saw that he had left out certain points that would have made things much more comprehensible, had he been more careful. The biggest flaw in the book is his hippie obsession with his Wu-Li metaphor. At times it's elegant and beautiful, but more often than not it's annoying and overblown. He's too eager to yammer on about particles acting as if they were conscious, ties between quantum mechanics and telepathy, and on and on. He's not a scientist so he's free to make these leaps of imaginative fancy, but I was constantly rolling my eyes whenever he started to wax philosophic about some new wrinkle in quantum mechanics. The other thing that grates is that he thinks the book is very funny. He even writes in the introduction that he's amazed and so pleased with how funny the book is, that it is, in fact, funnier than he is in real life. Mr. Zukav? It's not funny. His humor is cloying and totally unnecessary. Still, if you're interested in the history of physics--from Newton to Einstein to the birth of quantum mechanics--this is the book to read. But oddly enough, I'd recommend that you read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a primer to this book. Zen covers a lot of the difficult philosophical underpinnings that Zukav has integrated into his book. And Zen is a better introduction to those ideas. This summer, apparently, will be the summer of physics. I've figured out a logical progression: 0. (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) 1. The Dancing Wu Li Masters (history of physics + good discussion of Einstein + good intro to quantum mechanics) 2. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking (deeper discussion of Einstein's space-time + intro to quantum gravitation) 3. The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene (superstring theory of quantum gravity) To some degree each of the three physics books cover the same ground, but Zukav excels at surveying the history of physics and at describing Einstein's three important contributions. His intro to quantum mechanics is good enough, but that will be covered in more detail later. Hawking rushes through the history of physics so you really need Zukav as a primer. But Hawking then goes much deeper into the implications of general relativity's space-time. I'm halfway through it now and it's pointing towards a unification of general relativity with quantum mechanics (aka quantum gravitation). I began reading Brian Greene's book but realized that Zukav and Hawking really must come first. Greene also surveys the history of physics but does so briefly. His discussions of general relativity also aren't as robust as Zukav or Hawking's. And since string theory is the "final" theory, it really should come last anyway.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric Witchey

    When a writer can make something I believed inaccessible to me seem like dinner conversation in which I can participate, I'm thrilled to the core. Thanks to Gary Zukav. Without him, many other books I've read would never have made sense at all. How could I have approached The Elegant Universe without having read this first? How could I sit down at Thanksgiving with my high-energy physicist brother without having read this book?

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Swenson

    According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, it is impossible to know both the exact position and momentum of a particle: in fact, perfect knowledge of one makes it impossible to know anything about the other. The Dancing Wu Li Masters is a book about quantum physics and metaphysics, in which, as far as I can tell, all of the physics is correct, and, ironically, everything else is uniformly wrong. Gary Zukav, if he had written the previous sentence, would have replaced the word "ironically According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, it is impossible to know both the exact position and momentum of a particle: in fact, perfect knowledge of one makes it impossible to know anything about the other. The Dancing Wu Li Masters is a book about quantum physics and metaphysics, in which, as far as I can tell, all of the physics is correct, and, ironically, everything else is uniformly wrong. Gary Zukav, if he had written the previous sentence, would have replaced the word "ironically" with "therefore." His characteristic error is to invent an analogy to describe a quantum concept, then claim that the analogy is literally true. Thus, for example, photons "act as if they know" how an experiment is designed, so photons are conscious. Image: http://xkcd.com/1240/ My remark that all the physics in The Dancing Wu Li Masters is correct should be taken with a grain of salt, because I quit reading on page 117. At this point, Zukav wrote a sentence that should cause any author to question the value of his occupation: "Nonsense is nonsense only when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense." Allow me to retort: A token of gratitude would kindly inquire something about you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    As an engaging introduction to an enthralling science, for people who've never studied physics, this book is fantastic. I appreciated the historical approach to the topic, learning one piece of the puzzle at a time in the order of those who made the discoveries; I feel like this really helped my understanding. I'm someone who has held a fear of math and physics for years, but Zukav writes in a clear and thorough fashion, stopping himself every once a while to ensure that the reader is with him. As an engaging introduction to an enthralling science, for people who've never studied physics, this book is fantastic. I appreciated the historical approach to the topic, learning one piece of the puzzle at a time in the order of those who made the discoveries; I feel like this really helped my understanding. I'm someone who has held a fear of math and physics for years, but Zukav writes in a clear and thorough fashion, stopping himself every once a while to ensure that the reader is with him. The average layperson could learn the basics of complicated physics from this book, easily. Only when Zukav makes large leaps into philosophy, full of holes and assumptions and "logical" ruling-out of other possible explanations (despite a whole chapter praising Einstein for approaching physics with a beginner's mind not bothered with traditional conclusions of what is and is not possible), does he stumble. I knew going into it that he wrote this book with a particular readership in mind but to my surprise, I felt like I actually could have used MORE math, MORE in-depth explanation, and less sweeping extrapolation; this is no fault of the author's though, and I will have to credit him with encouraging me to study physics in greater depth. In summary: a superb, well-written introduction to new physics, whose only flaw (to my tastes at least) is a penchant for applying the knowledge to big-picture philosophical levels-- which isn't really something that anyone as clearly fascinated by the discovery of these new physics as Zukav is can be faulted for :)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Max Ostrovsky

    It was tough reading a book concerning "new" physics written over 30 years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about updates and what recent theories have added to the discussion. That said, the book wasn't what I was expecting. Sure, I was expecting a discussion of physics and its tie into the everything-ness philosophies of the world. The explanations were thorough and clear. But I wanted some sort of connection. What was the point of the book? And maybe this is just too much of me getting in the wa It was tough reading a book concerning "new" physics written over 30 years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about updates and what recent theories have added to the discussion. That said, the book wasn't what I was expecting. Sure, I was expecting a discussion of physics and its tie into the everything-ness philosophies of the world. The explanations were thorough and clear. But I wanted some sort of connection. What was the point of the book? And maybe this is just too much of me getting in the way - after all, part of the title does say it's just an overview. But still, I wanted to know the why? What was the unifying theory behind the whole book? And that very well may be the exact point of the book, I'm aware. After all, it did flat out equal aspects to Zen koans. Maybe I'm supposed to put the book down and meditate on it. I'm not a math person, well, at least I haven't been in almost two decades. I understood the concepts and the theories explained. But I just wasn't interested. I did, however, love the different explanation/definitions for Wu Li. That was perfect and I wanted the entire book to reflect that - and I believe that there was an attempt made to do that, but it fell flat for me. I also loved the fact that every chapter was Chapter One. But the book is definitely dated. It's late 70's LSD references were more of a distraction than helpful, relevant, or even funny.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    The annoying this about this book is that mostly it's wonderful. Gary Z has a clear, lucid prose style, and his explanation of wave-particle duality etc is as good as any I've come across. So when he says that subatomic particles are "conscious" or that he believes in telepathy, it's that much more frustrating. I have a number of very bright friends who get taken in by New Age snake oil because of careless use of language in a book like this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    S.Ach

    Physics used to be my favourite subject in my pre-engineering career ( sadly, Engineering did kill that part in me which thought academic study can be someone's career). Not the whole of it ( Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism never interested me), but especially loved Mechanics. Never knew then what I was reading were completely outdated, if not wrong. The part with Modern Physics were just cursorily touched and most part were encouraged to mug without questioning much. Well, probably saved fo Physics used to be my favourite subject in my pre-engineering career ( sadly, Engineering did kill that part in me which thought academic study can be someone's career). Not the whole of it ( Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism never interested me), but especially loved Mechanics. Never knew then what I was reading were completely outdated, if not wrong. The part with Modern Physics were just cursorily touched and most part were encouraged to mug without questioning much. Well, probably saved for later, which never came in my life. And I had never imagined that I will get back to it again. Now, in the quest to find the answer to the ultimate question, "Is there God?" I needed to get a perspective of the creation of the universe and purpose of life. Shuttling from religion and philosophy I arrived at the door steps of Physics. First there was Big Bang, (by Simon Singh) which told me if I comprehend one small part of physics called 'Relativity' by some guy called 'Einstein' it would come in handy understanding the creation of our world. I struggled through a brief history of time to understand the theory of everything. But I was more confused than before till I realized that there is a way around to understand God through New Physics. So I pulled from the bottom of my rack a book that I had bought almost 8 years ago, but never dared to read. The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav. ( How I wish I had done that 8 years before!) In one sentence, this book had similar effect on me as far science is concerned, as Sophie's World had on me for Philosophy. Gary Zukav not only introduces the difficult concepts of Quantum Mechanics and the theory of Relativity in a simplistic layman-language, but also presents the new concepts of modern physics with lucid and vivid illustrations that Physics becomes a pleasant reading. As some reviewer rightly said, 'Stripped of Mathematics, Physics becomes pure enchantment.' Its a must must must read for anyone who wants to understand how science explains why the universe is how it is (even if it is little outdated and I'm sure many mind boggling theories would have been discovered thereafter). Now coming to the very essence of both the theories - Quantum and Relativity, and their proponents, and their agreements ant their discords - everything is more fantastic than fiction. These theories takes you to the limits of human intellect - be it warping space-time or now-here-now-there electrons or mattet that is wave or wave that is matter - and gives you an intellectual gratification when you even grasp of iota of it. The thin line between Science and Philosophy blurs when science talks in the terms of consciousness and philosophy discusses paradox and evidences. And the beauty of these theories that most of the stuff can be cultivated in your mind indulging in thought experiments, not in a laboratory (if you do not intend to be an experimenting physicist).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Mind-blowing. In the interest of the required hyperbole book review demands: frustratingly fascinating. Frustrating because the mind grasps quicker what can be conveyed through language. Frustrating because, when read, you can't help but get the endorphine, intellectual rush that demands you share the knowledge with all. Frustrating because, something clicks, your mind abstractly grasps the idea, but when trying to convey these exciting new concepts to friends and loved ones, you feel grossly in Mind-blowing. In the interest of the required hyperbole book review demands: frustratingly fascinating. Frustrating because the mind grasps quicker what can be conveyed through language. Frustrating because, when read, you can't help but get the endorphine, intellectual rush that demands you share the knowledge with all. Frustrating because, something clicks, your mind abstractly grasps the idea, but when trying to convey these exciting new concepts to friends and loved ones, you feel grossly inadequate. All the while, you understand it. Why can't you teach it? Redemptive, in the end, because after explaining it a few times to different people, you end up solidifying the concepts even more. Seriously mind-blowing, in our scientific quest to find out the fundamental building block of all matter we reach the startling conclusion (though not so startling if familiar with the Upanishads): spirit--non physical realm of pure-potentiality--wave lengths stretching through different dimensions. Written for those unaccustomed to physics and mathematical language, the book stays in the realm of science while inferring possibilities that are nothing less than life-transformative.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sharayu Gangurde

    This is an amazing book and amazing so, because it revitalized the science training within me! As a teenager, I was so absorbed and completely fascinated by Neils Bohr's postulates, Max Planck's Theory that Physics was the air i breathed! And, after that phase I realized I was so out of touch of this very nature- atoms/protons/ quasi-protons/ quarks! Wow! This book truly is meant for the ordinary layman who is or was never a science student! I can even think of a few friends I can gift this book This is an amazing book and amazing so, because it revitalized the science training within me! As a teenager, I was so absorbed and completely fascinated by Neils Bohr's postulates, Max Planck's Theory that Physics was the air i breathed! And, after that phase I realized I was so out of touch of this very nature- atoms/protons/ quasi-protons/ quarks! Wow! This book truly is meant for the ordinary layman who is or was never a science student! I can even think of a few friends I can gift this book to! What science really means in the life of a student and a researcher versus in the ordinary life of a layman, this book completely closes gaps on it! What a wonderful lucid style of explaining modern physics! I kept reading hungrily, savouring every single word, if there were equations, my joy would have have known no bounds! Clearly, one of the best resource books for everyone! The Wu Li masters philosophy is interesting too! This book is highly recommended and if i were on the education board, this would just be THE book to study!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Huang

    Zukav did a surprisingly competent job describing physics in laymen terms that it is hard to believe he is not in the STEM field at all. Even though the book is published almost 40 years ago, some of the discussions have not changed much. For example, the first major-loophole-free experiment about non-locality was performed in 2016. A recent poll of physicists on the interpretation of quantum mechanics still checks all the boxes on page 335 — the possible implications of Bell’s Theorem. That sai Zukav did a surprisingly competent job describing physics in laymen terms that it is hard to believe he is not in the STEM field at all. Even though the book is published almost 40 years ago, some of the discussions have not changed much. For example, the first major-loophole-free experiment about non-locality was performed in 2016. A recent poll of physicists on the interpretation of quantum mechanics still checks all the boxes on page 335 — the possible implications of Bell’s Theorem. That said, the book has many things to nitpick. The distorted notion of many interpretations of the word “Wu Li” (Chinese for physics) is utterly wrong, annoying, and frankly stupid. Calling every part “Part I” and every chapter inside the parts “Chapter 1” is another one of those unnecessarily weird attempts to be cute.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Danelley

    Not an easy read but sooo full of awesome new physics explanations. Also hard to get into with a needy two-year-old, but I know life will only get increasingly busy day by day. If you want clear explanations of quantum mechanics, relativity, and particle physics and Feynman diagrams (with a dose of Eastern philosophy and some Buddhism) look no further than this excellent book. A lot of the foot-notes were contributed by big physicist names and I really enjoyed them, having a physics background. Not an easy read but sooo full of awesome new physics explanations. Also hard to get into with a needy two-year-old, but I know life will only get increasingly busy day by day. If you want clear explanations of quantum mechanics, relativity, and particle physics and Feynman diagrams (with a dose of Eastern philosophy and some Buddhism) look no further than this excellent book. A lot of the foot-notes were contributed by big physicist names and I really enjoyed them, having a physics background. Most of this book is review of stuff I learned in my undergrad and a year into my grad, but it was a refreshing reminder of all these amazing discoveries that have just happened in about the last hundred years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    A.P. Sweet

    Nice read. Great introduction to physics for someone who has no idea how it applies to everyday life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul Weiss

    Rats ... I should have read this 30 years ago! "Prove that a uniform body with three mutually perpendicular axes of symmetry cannot rotate stably about the axis of intermediate length" I remember it like it was yesterday. This was a question I faced on a second year classical mechanics exam. I got the question right, by the way. As a matter of fact, I scored a perfect 100% on the entire exam but it bothered me immensely that I should be able to prove something mathematically without having the fog Rats ... I should have read this 30 years ago! "Prove that a uniform body with three mutually perpendicular axes of symmetry cannot rotate stably about the axis of intermediate length" I remember it like it was yesterday. This was a question I faced on a second year classical mechanics exam. I got the question right, by the way. As a matter of fact, I scored a perfect 100% on the entire exam but it bothered me immensely that I should be able to prove something mathematically without having the foggiest inkling as to "why" it should be so at a much more fundamental level. In fact, it troubled me so deeply that after I received my undergraduate degree in Physics, I declined to pursue any further education in the field and went on to a career in business and finance. In The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav has written a superb explanation as to why my lack of understanding was so normal and why I should have embraced that lack of understanding as opposed to running away from it. In very clear prose, completely devoid of the baffling language of mathematical equations, he has written a story for those of us interested in exploring the mind-expanding (nay, mind-blowing) discoveries of modern advanced physics and cosmology -quantum mechanics; black holes; time travel; entanglement; action at a distance; special and general relativity; the nuclear particle zoo; and much, much more. I reveled in the discovery that even Einstein struggled with the notion that he would never be able to compare his mathematical models with the "real" mechanism. Indeed, he couldn't even imagine the meaning of such a comparison. A magnificent blend of philosophy, eastern mysticism and modern physics, Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters is perhaps best summarized by a single sentence from a New York Times Book Review: "Stripped of mathematics, physics becomes pure enchantment ... " While this isn't a book that would likely be accessible to someone without a foot already inside physics' door, it is a breathtaking, joyous revelation to people like myself who have that basic grounding and are looking to increase their knowledge. What the heck, if I had read this in the 1970s instead of waiting until now ... who knows, my entire life and career path might have been changed. Highly recommended. Paul Weiss

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tirath

    It took me a year or more to get through this!! And I'm so happy I got to the end - because this book is brilliant. After going through a few books on physics/ bios I believe this merging of eastern philosophies and the western scientific world is the best way to explain whats quantum physics all about. And the author has done a brilliant job - - still so relevant even though the book is 30-40 years old now! Key notes: Einstein doesnt like it. Schrodinger's revelation Are there particles Is there a di It took me a year or more to get through this!! And I'm so happy I got to the end - because this book is brilliant. After going through a few books on physics/ bios I believe this merging of eastern philosophies and the western scientific world is the best way to explain whats quantum physics all about. And the author has done a brilliant job - - still so relevant even though the book is 30-40 years old now! Key notes: Einstein doesnt like it. Schrodinger's revelation Are there particles Is there a difference between the dancer and the dance? Quantum logic above mathematics and language The book is full of these difficult bits - and it helped that I took lots of notes all along the book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tepintzin

    I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was a readable introduction to quantum physics. On the other, it was really snooty about "those close-minded scientists" in a way that really made me angry. It saves itself from a three star rating because I am now more curious about quantum physics and want to read more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samir Thacker

    The best book I have read about modern physics! Einstein said that if you can’t explain something in simple words, you haven’t really understood it! Gary sure understands Quantum physics by that argument. A big thanks to Bill Gates for his review of this book which is what motivated me to try it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Yossi Pinhas

    I had read this book in the 80s when I was a high school student -it was compulsory reading- and returned to it 30 years later, after it was written 40 years ago, and it concerns mostly about science discussed around 100 years ago. Re-reading, I would not say the science it re-reveals to the "ordinary reader" is obsolete, rather, needs updates, but of course that is not the author's fault. Gary Zukav in several places reiterates that mathematics is not needed to read (and understand) his book, h I had read this book in the 80s when I was a high school student -it was compulsory reading- and returned to it 30 years later, after it was written 40 years ago, and it concerns mostly about science discussed around 100 years ago. Re-reading, I would not say the science it re-reveals to the "ordinary reader" is obsolete, rather, needs updates, but of course that is not the author's fault. Gary Zukav in several places reiterates that mathematics is not needed to read (and understand) his book, however, it is not for the ordinary non-mathematics reader either. Those, I would suggest would be equally happy if they read the first two and the last chapters only. On the other hand, I was quite happy to be introduced to quantum mechanics through a way that (almost) omitted math formulae. Nevertheless, this is not easy reading at all. But, it is not a new age book either, which relinquishes science into the hands of eastern beliefs or religion. Claiming new physics and eastern beliefs perhaps "touch" each other is not a crime for either. As to its language, as much as it claims to simplify itself and repeats expressions to makes the reader comprehend, it does sometimes get on one's nerves.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    The book explains the Wu Li is Chinese for Physics. A rather interesting book, but not a real easy read. It does a pretty good job of discussing topic related to quantum physics in laymen language. I particularly liked the chapters related to Einstein's theories of relativity. The interesting twist to this book is how it relates the process that quantum physicists work and come up with theories to eastern philosophies.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    Brutally terrible. Do yourself a favor and shred it before opening to the first page. I'd have given it 0 stars if that was possible. Typical wacko hippie crap disguised (poorly) as quantum mechanics. And the writing! It hurts to think about it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Popular history of the evolution in theoretical physics, connected with Eastern wisdom. Very long run-up with sometimes unnecessary elaborations, too dense at the end. The references to Eastern wisdom seemed rather cheap to me. Nevertheless, I remember I really enjoyed reading this. (2.5 stars)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick Wallace

    Muddling science with belief can become tedious, especially in this volume.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Relativity, philosophy and quantum physics (minus the mathematics), all wrapped in masterful story-telling. Enchanting and transformative.

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