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The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of…

The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (1979)

by Gary Zukav

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,162243,005 (3.69)26
  1. 00
    The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex by Murray Gell-Mann (Limelite)
    Limelite: Eminently readable, fun, and adventurous with the added bonus of being about actual quantum physics.

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Eh well i didn't really hate this. Seems like author is making some unknown manifestations into something special. Particles, waves, quantum leaps.

Science means to know. This seems more unknown or mystical an area.

The gaps are not filled.

( )
  Bruce_Deming | Feb 5, 2016 |
Gee, is it a quarter century ago when I read this? Saw it in another LTer's library and remembered that I owned a paperback edition. Since so much time has passed, it's unfair of me to write a real review of this book. However, I do remember it's aftertaste well enough to say a couple of things about it.

It was partially responsible for me avidly reading actual science books about actual modern physics, including quantum physics. It is totally responsible for me making no attempt to read anything on Eastern mysticism with the ambition of connecting it to quantum physics. Instead, I set out to read and meet physicists who wrote about "their" science.

As a result, I attended two lectures by Murray Gell-Man, met him, and bought his pop sci book the Quark and the Jaguar, a much better volume for the layman to come to an unmuddied understanding of quantum physics (Chromodynamics), at least as best an understanding possible considering the subject and that the reader probably isn't a physicist of the cut of Gell-Man. The closest he has come to Eastern mysticism is describing the "eightfold way," a scheme for bringing order out of the chaos of nuclear collisions.

I also attended lectures by other, less prominent physicists, with the exception of one by Edward Teller a few years before he died. I can tell you, after meeting him, that he would never have brooked Wu Li anything. "Utter nonsense!" is what he would have said, waving a dismissive hand in the air and wearing a look of disgust on his face. Just the kind of reaction you would expect from the "Father of the hydrogen bomb." (All puns fully intended.)

So, it's fair to conclude by my reading pattern and tastes as touched on above, I'm more of a mind with Gell-Man and even Teller than I am with Mr. Z. and that I prefer my physics to be "meat" rather than "meta." ( )
1 vote Limelite | Apr 9, 2015 |
My favorite quote from the novel:

Ûω۪Reality 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 believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.‰Û

Touted as an easy layman‰Ûªs introduction to the history of Quantum Physics, I took a while not because the experiments of Planck, Einstein, Finkelstein and Bohm the author breaks down for his reader so well are hard to conceptualize. It is the meaning of the ideas behind these experiments that are heavy to digest.

A central idea is that there is energy in everything and what happens to B will always affect A in some way. Although you can‰Ûªt predict specific events, you can predict probabilities. And, ‰ÛÏNot only do we influence our reality ‰Û_ we actually create it.‰Û

Another idea is the fundamental belief that we don‰Ûªt know what we don‰Ûªt know and that the new physics might actually be the study of consciousness.

There are also intriguing comparisons made in this book between some of the tenants of new physics and eastern religion and mysticism.

Some argue that Quantum Mechanics is the only science that allows for the concept of God. Newtonian physics doesn‰Ûªt apply to the subatomic world although the subatomic world includes Newtonian physics. Quantum Physics goes beyond the machinery of things and explains matter in terms of energy and organics. It describes an openness to experience, rather than sole reliance on scientific description that physicists have learned to place value on.

In this book Zukav captures a moment for scientists when they realized they didn‰Ûªt know what they thought they knew. It wasn‰Ûªt the first time the scientific community and the world had come to such realization, of course. For hundreds of years we thought the world was flat only to find out it was round. But I was fascinated by the idea in a more recent day and age of how such enlightenment and monumental shift in thinking might feel. ( )
  JeaniaK | Dec 13, 2014 |
Attempts to build connections between the tricky concepts of physics, e.g. the way that some things do not 'exist' until they are observed, with mystical /religious/ metaphysical concepts. However he misses the points that : 1. the effects he discusses are at the quantum level, when matter is collected in bulk (i.e. more than a few pico grams) then bulk effects come into play which swamp quantum effects; 2. humans have evolved in the bulk universe & so are not sensitive to quantum level effects. (even when quantum effects are harnessed by modern technology they are done so in bulk)
He raises fair points about the ability of the human mind to think in different ways in order to understand the counter-intuitive parts of physics. But that does not mean we have to become bhuddist mystics.
  AndrewCapey | Apr 9, 2013 |
VX says it's a great intro to quantum physics.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gary Zukavprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jonkers, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kousbroek, RudyForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Ytterligare en bok som gjort mig intresserad av fysik och gett mig nya tankar om tillvaron.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060959681, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:43 -0400)

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Explores the history and concepts of physics, including quantum mechanics and relativity theory, within the framework of Eastern thought to unravel the mysteries of the physical universe.

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