- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Abridged edition (May 15, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1559270586
- ISBN-13: 978-1559270588
- Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.8 x 7.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics Abridged Edition
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. Much of the book could have been written in far simpler terminology, while approximating the activity discussed in more intelligible terms for the layman.
However, that said, Zukav does a good job of explaining some very difficult material. Probably the scientists whom he ran the manuscript by contributed to the confusion by insisting on language more precise than was needed in order to get the ideas across.
He does manage to express the mysteries uncovered by high-energy physicists, and the tendency of quantum mechanics, more and more, to resemble statements made hundreds of years ago by the Eastern mystics.
I recommend this book, and have no difficulty assigning it five stars.
Author of The Road to Damascus: Our Journey Through Eternity
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.
When I saw it in ebook format, I couldn't resist revisiting this old favorite.