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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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2,381273,981 (3.71)28
  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 24 (next | show all)
An entertaining book that attempts to explain the principles of Quantum Mechanics to the layman without using mathematics. My only issue with the book was how it was organized. I suppose with what was being discussed it made sense for it to start out each chapter at one again. Then again, I don't particularly care for when it does that.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters from the title refers to what the Chinese call physics. Wu Li refers to a bunch of different things since Chinese is one of those languages that is hard to translate into English. Anyway, the author has no prior scientific or mathematical background so I was pretty impressed by the end result.

The book is divided into six parts with each part being named after a tenable translation of Wu Li. The first on is called Wu Li, the second part is called Patterns of Organic Energy, the third part is called My Way, the fourth is called Nonsense, the fifth is called I Clutch My Ideas, and the last section is called Enlightenment.

The ideas of Quantum Mechanics don't really bother me, so I guess I don't particularly understand it. That's just how particles behave, right? Particles are Waves and Waves are Particles depending on what you expect to observe or measure. Sure there was a huge paradigm shift in the accepted ideas of physics, but all that is probably because I am too young to remember Feynman being alive.

In any case, this book was quite good. The book was looked over by physicists for accuracy, but it is still from the 1970s and as such has the particle zoo. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
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! ( )
  Sharayu_Gangurde | Jan 19, 2017 |
There are a good number of books on the shelf near my desk that I notice have a bookmark sticking up out of the pages. THE DANCING WU LI MASTERS was one of them. I always thought of this title as one of the great primers on modern physics but I had not made it through to the end. Now that I have I am starting to think that Gary Zukav may be one of our great thinkers. I am sitting here deeply impressed with how the last chapter, "The End of Science," written around 1978 is the prelude to George Musser's late 2015 book on physics and the end of space, SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE.

I believe it was Richard Feynman who told his sister Joan that when you dive into a difficult book and get stuck, go back to the beginning and start over. I think of this as similar to getting a car up a snowy road. Now that I have made it all the way through DANCING in the mass paperback version, I ordered a good copy of the hardback and plan to back up and get a start on the icy hill yet another time.

Zukav claims to have a lack of education in physics and a liberal arts mentality. When Zukav wrote DANCING there were not many physicists yet who were familiar with John Stewart Bell's theorem regarding quantum entanglement and the fact that it was being proven. Yet Zukav looked into and predicted the end of science. Which is much of where Musser arrives today with SPOOKY. As you read them, pay no attention to your smoke alarm. That is just the stuff curling from your ears. ( )
  torreyhouse | Jun 25, 2016 |
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 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gary Zukavprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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