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The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics [Paperback]

Gary Zukav
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1980 0688084028 978-0688084028

“The most exciting intellectual adventure I've been on since reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

Gary Zukav’s timeless, humorous, New York Times bestselling masterpiece, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, is arguably the most widely acclaimed introduction to quantum physics ever written. Scientific American raves: “Zukav is such a skilled expositor, with such an amiable style, that it is hard to imagine a layman who would not find his book enjoyable and informative.” Accessible, edifying, and endlessly entertaining, The Dancing Wu Li Masters is back in a beautiful new edition—and the doors to the fascinating, dazzling, remarkable world of quantum physics are opened to all once again, no previous mathematical or technical expertise required.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The most exciting intellectual adventure I've been on since reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." -- --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"This book is an extremely clear and easily understandable account of the latest developments in physics... -- --David Bohm, Professor of Physics, Birkbeck College, University of London, in Nature

Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co (December 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688084028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688084028
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,867,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

GARY ZUKAV is the author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, winner of The American Book Award for Science; The Seat of the Soul, the celebrated #1 New York Times bestseller; Soul Stories, also a New York Times bestseller; and many others. His books have sold millions of copies and are published in twenty-four languages. He is a graduate of Harvard University and a former U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) officer with Vietnam service. He lives in Oregon with his spiritual partner, Linda Francis.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Join the dance February 3, 2007
What a pity the two responses to "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" chosen as "spotlight" reviews are both cynical and derogatory. I hope they don't deter others from reading further. Neither reviewer seemed to grasp the fact that Gary Zukav was not writing about physics: He was writing about mental mastery in the *context* of physics, going to great lengths to explain the implications of "Wu Li." The whole book, in fact, is based on five of the many representations of "Wu Li." Zukav even says in the introduction, "This is not a book about physics or eastern philosophies."

All the same, Zukav checked his facts out with "five of the finest physicists in the world" and footnotes their comments where they "punctuate, illustrate, annotate and jab at everything in the text." What more can you want? Those physicists even allowed themselves to be named, surely professional suicide if Zukav is substantially incorrect - as some reviewers maintain. Zukav also warns the reader that knowledge in physics at the time of writing was set to progress rapidly. What was accepted then would soon be made redundant as more information arose.

I feel really sorry for those who get no joy out of this book. I, for one, will go back to it again and again out of sheer delight. Zukav puts it this way: "Most people believe that physicists are explaining the world. Some physicists even believe that, but the Wu Li masters know they are only dancing with it."

All I can say is that, with this book, I danced too.
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155 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very clear explanation of physics for the layman June 16, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Unfortunately, the first book by Gary Zukav that I read was 'Seat of the Soul.' That was a mistake. I was disappointed because he offered no background, or justification, or source for his ideas. he simply laid them out pedantically, as fait accompli.

This book is much better. I can see why it achieved critical acclaim. It is a clear attempt to explain physics to the layman in terms that he will understand. It still has some faults, but generally he does an excellent job.

Well, maybe not faults--just misplaced emphasis. For example, he goes on at great length explaining the connection between wavelength and frequency and amplitude, charting them and talking them to death, although they are very simple, easy to understand concepts. He does the same thing with three-dimensional coordinates. But, when he comes to difficult material to grasp, he often slides into incomprehensible language, for example:

"In a quantum mechanical experiment, the observed system, traveling undisturbed between the region of preparation and the region of measurement, develops according to the Schrodinger wave equation. During this time, all of the allowed things that could happen to it unfold as a developing wave function. However, as soon as it interacts with a measuring device (the observing system), one of those possibilities actualizes and the rest cease to exist. The quantum leap is from a multifaceted potentiality to a single actuality." (Page 75).

Pretty turgid prose. What he is talking about is the firing of a photon through a shield with two slits in it, at a wall where the hits were registered.
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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to the New Physics May 8, 2000
This is one of the most accessible and most fascinating introductions to the new physics that I have ever read. I took a class in Thermodynamics and Modern Physics last summer at a local university and I did not learn a tenth as much as I did from this book. Granted I learned more mathematical details from the class, but this book taught me why what I was learning and doing made sense, which at least for me is far more important. I feel if I went back and took that class over again it would be extremely easy now.
The other wonderful aspect of this book is its constant ties to Eastern Philosophy. This is something that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent in recent years in the sciences. The whole world is becoming more and more interdisciplinary and this book is a fine example of what cross-fertilization can do to inspire new ideas and concepts.
I would highly reccomend this book for any one interested in science even if they are not interested in physics per se. This book provides and excellent analysis of how scientific ideas and conceptions change and incorporate new ideas and new experience. This book is also very relevant from the aspects of philosophy, history, and sociology of science as well since it delves into all three of these aspects at times. Overall an extremely enjoyable and accessible read.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Presentation of Quantum Physics April 21, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a scientist who has taught physics my entire career, and was really impressed with this book. It was given to me as a Christmas present by my daughter. I did not get to it for a while, but when I did, I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! I never thought it was possible to explain quantum mechanics without math, but Zukav did it in a marvelous way. I would recomment it to anyone who would love to come into contact with new ideas and concepts. Truly a great book!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great service
The book was a little rough but the people were fantastic to deal with all the pages were there it was fine
Published 29 days ago by Donna Polenski
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless treasure
This book has been recognized for decades as a masterpiece that broke new ground on understanding fundamental concepts of quantum and classical physics for the lay reader, and for... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Willard
5.0 out of 5 stars great
love it, a must read, bought it so I can once in a while go back to it. highly recommend
Published 1 month ago by halyna nasca
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual journey into the new phyiscs
This is a very well written book that explains recent advances in physics in ways that a non-expert can understand. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Steven
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Read...
But there are many logical inconsistencies in the book. It is a mix of pseudo-science and New Age religion. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Christopher H.
5.0 out of 5 stars love it!
allow me to have the widest imagination ever. this book really opens up my understanding to the world, or rather, it totally wiped out the old understanding. Read more
Published 2 months ago by stanley wang
4.0 out of 5 stars Gary zukav -Hit the nail on the head
Received many lessons in understanding physics and Buddhaism the connection was clear.. I have recommended this book to my grandchildren who are interested in Zukav's newer books.
Published 2 months ago by Madelyn S. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining
I chose this rating because the author makes complicated material available to a person without scientific knowledge. Also, he presents the information in an entertaining way. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Barbara Bitticker
4.0 out of 5 stars Growth
I am enjoying the concepts of the book. I cannot say I understand it all, but recognizing there is so much more to this world that what I can see has facilitated growth in my... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Cindy Van Hook
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Group
I read this is one of my book discussion groups. It's a very good book. It points out how quantum mechanics is aligned with ancient beliefs about the nature of reality.
Published 4 months ago by Sandra S
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