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Dancing Wu Li Masters

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  7,935 Ratings  ·  334 Reviews
New Age Physics and its relation to modern life
Mass Market
Published August 1st 1980 by Bantam Books (first published March 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Riku Sayuj
Nov 13, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Prof Himanshu Rai
The happiest thought I take out of this book is the fact that science is no longer taking a direction opposite to that of religion, philosophy or spirituality - all the noblest endeavors of mankind were fundamentally tied together after all. It was just that we, with our obsessive propensity to classify and divide had made the artificial boundaries.

The only complaint about the book is the fact that it goes into needless depth about the fundamentals of classical physics and then skims over the "n
Jun 15, 2009 Manny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Yesterday, I read some scathing comments about this book, and the closely related The Tao of Physics, in Woit's Not Even Wrong. Apparently, there used to a be an approach to quantum mechanics called S-matrix theory, which was popular among left-leaning physicists in the early 70s. Woit refers to "The People's Republic of Berkeley". It was something to do with "abolition of the aristocracy of particles", which I must say I didn't completely get, but you can see how this might appeal. As I underst ...more
Lane Wilkinson
Feb 03, 2008 Lane Wilkinson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't even dignify this book with an inclusion on my 'science' bookshelf. Surely, the most dangerous rhetoric is that which sounds plausible. 'Dancing Wu Li Masters' does the whole "Ancient Chinese Secret" treatment of particle physics that was so popular during the 1970s. Unfortunately, I worry that too many who read this bestseller were irrevocably taken with an esoteric, transcendental, and ultimately fallacious interpretation of contemporary science.
Mar 20, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that lightly, and perhaps appropriately, suggests a connection between eastern religions and the developments in 20th century physics, notably Einstein's theories of relativity, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and the collective effort, from Max Planck through Einstein to Nils Bohr and many others, to develop quantum theory, quantum mechanics and other dimensions of "quantum" reality.

The fundamental issue is that logic breaks down in the quantum world. This is explained well.
Aug 20, 2009 Donald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, I read this book at the advice of Jeff Sneider who recommended it highly. I agree. This book, while difficult in places, does lead me to question my view of reality, which has been purely Newtonian (read the book to understand). I'd rate this book right up with Godel, Escher, and Bach. I will think often about it.

It may be very well be true, that everyone lives in Aristotle's metaphorical cave, seeing shadows of the essence of reality. Actually, quantum mechanics pretty much says it IS tr
Eric M. Witchey
Oct 27, 2008 Eric M. Witchey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the mystery of mind and the universe
When a writer can make something I believed inaccessible to me seem like dinner conversation in which I can participate, I'm thrilled to the core. Thanks to Gary Zukav. Without him, many other books I've read would never have made sense at all. How could I have approached The Elegant Universe without having read this first? How could I sit down at Thanksgiving with my high-energy physicist brother without having read this book?
Oct 03, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Mind-blowing. In the interest of the required hyperbole book review demands: frustratingly fascinating. Frustrating because the mind grasps quicker what can be conveyed through language. Frustrating because, when read, you can't help but get the endorphine, intellectual rush that demands you share the knowledge with all. Frustrating because, something clicks, your mind abstractly grasps the idea, but when trying to convey these exciting new concepts to friends and loved ones, you feel grossly in ...more
As an engaging introduction to an enthralling science, for people who've never studied physics, this book is fantastic. I appreciated the historical approach to the topic, learning one piece of the puzzle at a time in the order of those who made the discoveries; I feel like this really helped my understanding. I'm someone who has held a fear of math and physics for years, but Zukav writes in a clear and thorough fashion, stopping himself every once a while to ensure that the reader is with him. ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Sujeet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, science
Physics used to be my favourite subject in my pre-engineering career ( sadly, Engineering did kill that part in me which thought academic study can be someone's career). Not the whole of it ( Thermodynamics and Electromagnetism never interested me), but especially loved Mechanics. Never knew then what I was reading were completely outdated, if not wrong. The part with Modern Physics were just cursorily touched and most part were encouraged to mug without questioning much. Well, probably saved fo ...more
James Swenson
Aug 01, 2013 James Swenson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: started
According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, it is impossible to know both the exact position and momentum of a particle: in fact, perfect knowledge of one makes it impossible to know anything about the other. The Dancing Wu Li Masters is a book about quantum physics and metaphysics, in which, as far as I can tell, all of the physics is correct, and, ironically, everything else is uniformly wrong.

Gary Zukav, if he had written the previous sentence, would have replaced the word "ironically
Jan 12, 2010 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
This is the worst book ever written. From his completely nonsensical leaps from point to point, to his annoying tendency to follow each mention of "matter" with "(pun?)" to his pseudo-knowledge of quantum mechanics and belief that randomness = free will to his decision not to explain the uncertainty principle in any way that might make sense and make it seem less mystical to his just plain terrible writing and awful, irrelevant quotations I can safely say that this is the worst piece of snake oi ...more
Max Ostrovsky
It was tough reading a book concerning "new" physics written over 30 years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about updates and what recent theories have added to the discussion. That said, the book wasn't what I was expecting. Sure, I was expecting a discussion of physics and its tie into the everything-ness philosophies of the world. The explanations were thorough and clear. But I wanted some sort of connection. What was the point of the book?
And maybe this is just too much of me getting in the wa
Keith Mukai
Jun 28, 2009 Keith Mukai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably as good as a physics-for-the-layman book can get. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. Far from it, in fact.

The strength of the book is Zukav's review of the history of physics. He does a good job setting up and explaining the major breakthroughs so that you, the reader, can appreciate their significance in pretty substantial ways. That's quite a feat. His clarity gets weaker as he starts to go into the weirder aspects of quantum mechanics though. At times he's so eager to jump t
Sep 13, 2007 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The annoying this about this book is that mostly it's wonderful. Gary Z has a clear, lucid prose style, and his explanation of wave-particle duality etc is as good as any I've come across. So when he says that subatomic particles are "conscious" or that he believes in telepathy, it's that much more frustrating. I have a number of very bright friends who get taken in by New Age snake oil because of careless use of language in a book like this.
This book of Gary Zukav’s helps explain quantum physics and relativity theory in “relatively” (pun intended) simple terms for a layperson. The fact that Zukav himself has no physics background probably helps framing these concepts in words that are easy to comprehend.
There are a lot of similarities between this book and Capra’s “Tao of Physics”, but overall, I felt this book explains the physics better than Capra’s book. To be fair, Capra is trying to explain how physics comes closer and closer
Aug 05, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book explains the Wu Li is Chinese for Physics. A rather interesting book, but not a real easy read. It does a pretty good job of discussing topic related to quantum physics in laymen language. I particularly liked the chapters related to Einstein's theories of relativity.

The interesting twist to this book is how it relates the process that quantum physicists work and come up with theories to eastern philosophies.
Oct 24, 2012 Danelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read but sooo full of awesome new physics explanations. Also hard to get into with a needy two-year-old, but I know life will only get increasingly busy day by day. If you want clear explanations of quantum mechanics, relativity, and particle physics and Feynman diagrams (with a dose of Eastern philosophy and some Buddhism) look no further than this excellent book. A lot of the foot-notes were contributed by big physicist names and I really enjoyed them, having a physics background. ...more
Feb 05, 2016 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just, wow. I've always been fascinated by the concepts of physics, but the few classes I took in high school and college focused on mathematical calculations that were very difficult for me (given my terrible math skills and the fact that I had been turned me off to math at a very young age), and so I rapidly became discouraged from going any further in science.

This book was a joy, an absolute joy, for me to read. It made the incredibly abstract concepts of quantum physics not only accessib
Mike Suter
Sep 13, 2015 Mike Suter rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author starts off by admitting to not being a scientist, then launches into a misguided explanation of quantum physics. He takes large logical leaps; for instance, from the phenomenon that elementary particles can be measured as both waves or particles, he presumes an aware universe. There are multiple scientifically plausible explanations, such as that at mass level and charge levels near zero, particles have both properties, or oscillate rapidly between them, so you see whichever state you ...more
Dave Maddock
[The] history of science in general often has been the story of scientists vigorously fighting an onslaught of new ideas. This is because it is difficult to relinquish the sense of security that comes from a long and rewarding acquaintance with a particular world view. (p. 191)

...criticizes the guy promoting eastern mysticism which, by his own admission, hasn't changed much since the 2nd c. AD (p. 312). Good thing he doesn't have the character flaw of feeling safe in a particular world view, unl
Ernie Truman
To sum up what I took away from this book is that our conventional way of looking at reality is not the way things really are. According to the author, physicists have made discoveries that tell us that things are closer to how eastern philosophy says they are. Subatomic particles do not exist independently of themselves and actually suggest each other as a relation. He says that quantum mechanics cannot be understood in terms of conventional logic and that as opposed to classical science things ...more
Xiang Jiang
Jul 23, 2015 Xiang Jiang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This mind-blowing book is about quantum mechanics.
Are we part of the world? Are we actualizing the world? Are we living in a parallel world? Or neither?
Science is to figure out what is this world; or to find an explanation about why our observations make sense; or neither?
Are physicists explaining the world, or dancing with it?
If our observations collapse the universe into three dimensions, are we really able to study the world without observations? Are there really dimensions in this world?
Jun 12, 2008 Ari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Brutally terrible. Do yourself a favor and shred it before opening to the first page. I'd have given it 0 stars if that was possible. Typical wacko hippie crap disguised (poorly) as quantum mechanics. And the writing! It hurts to think about it.
Steve Whiting
Feb 17, 2016 Steve Whiting rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Another book I mislaid for years and rediscovered recently. Zukav proposes a dichotomy of logical science-minded people and liberal arts-minded people who can't readily communicate with each other. He sets out to explain "new physics" in terms accessible to the liberal arts-minded section. He does an ok-ish job of explaining the science without ever really appearing to fully understand what he is is describing, and has an unfortunate insistence on repeatedly cramming in comparisons to "eastern m ...more
A.P. Sweet
Jan 11, 2015 A.P. Sweet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice read. Great introduction to physics for someone who has no idea how it applies to everyday life.
William Crosby
Feb 08, 2015 William Crosby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Metaphysical, non-mathematical approach to physics. Author states that physics has been transformed from math and formulas and laws to a philosophy and probability discussion because of quantum mechanics. Gives various ties to the Eastern mystical world-views. A focus on unity (i.e. matter and energy are just different forms of each other) and interrelated processes throughout the universe.

Objections could be made on the drawn out efforts to relate modern physics to axioms of ancient mysticism.
Nick Wallace
Apr 07, 2009 Nick Wallace rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Muddling science with belief can become tedious, especially in this volume.
Chirayu Batra
Mar 12, 2016 Chirayu Batra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books read recently. Not only for the love of physics, the book gives you a very lucid idea of how physics has been evolving, describing the challenges faced by the physicists at different phases of transition along with the way they responded. For those who think quantum physics is abstract, it indeed is for those who are still bound by the shackles of understanding thing by the process. The book urges you to dive into the realm of experience in order to fully unfold the mysteri ...more
Scott Cox
Jan 18, 2016 Scott Cox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book when I was taking Physical Chemistry in college. I thought it would help simplify the inherently obtuse nature of this subject – it did, but in all fairness, I think author Gary Zukav took on a “tiger" when he tried to simplify the very complex subject of quantum mechanics. However Zukav is a very engaging writer, as evidenced by some of his unique chapter headings – "Special Nonsense," "General Nonsense," "The Particle Zoo," etc. And it is fascinating to see how he tries ...more
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The more we know about reality... 2 12 Aug 05, 2013 10:26PM  
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  • Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
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  • Deep Down Things: The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics
  • The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World
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  • Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions
  • In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching
Gary Zukav is the author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters, winner of The American Book Award for Science; Soul Stories, a New York Times bestseller; and The Seat of the Soul, a New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly #1 bestseller. His books have sold millions of copies and are published in sixteen languages. He is a graduate of Harvard and a former U.S. Army Special Forces ...more
More about Gary Zukav...

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“Reality 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.”
“You do an experiment because your own philosophy makes you want to know the result. It’s too hard, and life is too short, to spend your time doing something because someone else has said it’s important. You must feel the thing yourself…” 9 likes
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