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The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics English Language Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 255 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0553263824
ISBN-10: 055326382X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

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.

From the Back Cover

"'Stripped of mathematics, physics becomes pure enchantment'...I don't care how dumb you are at science; you'll come away from this book feeling like a Wu Li master yourself."
--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"Zukav is such a skillful expositor, with such amiable style, that it is hard to imagine a layman who would not find this book enjoyable and informative."
--Martin Gardner, staff writer, Scientific American

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; English Language edition (September 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055326382X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553263824
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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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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Format: Paperback
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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