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Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics (Perennial Classics)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  9,555 ratings  ·  405 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by Perennial Classics (first published March 1979)
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 ·  9,555 ratings  ·  405 reviews

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Riku Sayuj
Oct 02, 2011 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 rated it it was ok
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
Diane in Australia
This book was first published in 1979, much has transpired since then, so it is dated. In layman's terms, the author compares Eastern beliefs, psychology, and quantums physics. Interesting book, but I wasn't as 'wowed' by it as some were.

"If this is so, then the distinction between scientists, poets, painters, and writers is not clear. In fact, it is possible that scientists, poets, painters, and writers are all members of the same family of people whose gift it is by nature to take those things
Lane Wilkinson
Feb 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Made an otherwise complicated subject readily readable for me, even eager for more. The simple analogies and examples created that feeling of an epiphany, as in: "OK, I get it now!" Beautiful.

Since it's been over 30 years since I read this, it's time to re-new. Can never know too much about quantum physics. Or its relationship to philosophy.
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Keith Mukai
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Eric Witchey
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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?
James Swenson
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Max Ostrovsky
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, favourites
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
Oct 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sharayu Gangurde
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
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 ...more
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
A.P. Sweet
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nice read. Great introduction to physics for someone who has no idea how it applies to everyday life.
Paul Weiss
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rats ... I should have read this 30 years ago!

"Prove that a uniform body with three mutually perpendicular axes of symmetry cannot rotate stably about the axis of intermediate length"

I remember it like it was yesterday. This was a question I faced on a second year classical mechanics exam. I got the question right, by the way. As a matter of fact, I scored a perfect 100% on the entire exam but it bothered me immensely that I should be able to prove something mathematically without having the fog
Michael Huang
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zukav did a surprisingly competent job describing physics in laymen terms that it is hard to believe he is not in the STEM field at all. Even though the book is published almost 40 years ago, some of the discussions have not changed much. For example, the first major-loophole-free experiment about non-locality was performed in 2016. A recent poll of physicists on the interpretation of quantum mechanics still checks all the boxes on page 335 — the possible implications of Bell’s Theorem. That sai ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It took me a year or more to get through this!! And I'm so happy I got to the end - because this book is brilliant.
After going through a few books on physics/ bios I believe this merging of eastern philosophies and the western scientific world is the best way to explain whats quantum physics all about.

And the author has done a brilliant job - - still so relevant even though the book is 30-40 years old now!

Key notes: Einstein doesnt like it.
Schrodinger's revelation
Are there particles
Is there a di
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was a readable introduction to quantum physics. On the other, it was really snooty about "those close-minded scientists" in a way that really made me angry. It saves itself from a three star rating because I am now more curious about quantum physics and want to read more.
Yossi Pinhas
I had read this book in the 80s when I was a high school student -it was compulsory reading- and returned to it 30 years later, after it was written 40 years ago, and it concerns mostly about science discussed around 100 years ago. Re-reading, I would not say the science it re-reveals to the "ordinary reader" is obsolete, rather, needs updates, but of course that is not the author's fault.
Gary Zukav in several places reiterates that mathematics is not needed to read (and understand) his book, h
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Popular history of the evolution in theoretical physics, connected with Eastern wisdom. Very long run-up with sometimes unnecessary elaborations, too dense at the end. The references to Eastern wisdom seemed rather cheap to me. Nevertheless, I remember I really enjoyed reading this. (2.5 stars)
Nick Wallace
Mar 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
Muddling science with belief can become tedious, especially in this volume.
Mohammad Tanviruzzaman
This is a book written by a non-physicist that argues how the cutting edge quantum mechanics connect back to buddhist and other wisdom. I do not buy the argument at all, but I think the author tried quite a bit to understand and to convey his understanding about the particle physics. Some of his explanations should be useful as a connecting thread for a more detailed treatment.
I started reading it in the middle of july it is middle of october now and I could not finish reading the last 10 or so
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics
For such a mystical sounding title, Zukav really doesn't spend that much time discussing Eastern philosophy except to point out the obvious: that both physics and Eastern philosophy suggest that 'we are all connected'.

The bulk of the book is really more a primer on quantum mechanics from a non-mathematical perspective. Zukav did an excellent job (in my humble layman's opinion), of covering the history and evolution of thought in physics AND relating the basics of quantum mechanics in a very logi
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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

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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…” 15 likes
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