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

Gary Zukav
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon 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 centre, 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, Amazon.com

Review

"The most exciting intellectual adventure I've been on since reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (Christophre Lehmann-Haupt New York Times)

"Recommended highly, both for those who want to understand the essential significance of modern physics and for those who are concerned with its implications for the possible transformation of the human consciousness" (Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

Quantum physics for the layman

About the Author

Gary Zukav is a Harvard graduate and former Green Beret in the Vietnam War. The author of four consecutive New York Times bestsellers, he lives in California.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

My first exposure to quantum physics occurred a few years ago when a friend invited me to an afternoon conference at the Lawrence Berkeley, California. At that time, I had no connections with the scientific community, so I went to see what physicists were like. To my great surprise, I discovered that (1), I understood everything that they said, and (2), their discussion sounded very much like a theological discussion. I scarcely could believe what I had discovered. Physics was not the sterile, boring discipline that I had assumed it to be. It was a rich, profound venture which had become inseparable from philosophy. Incredibly, no one but physicists seemed to be aware of this remarkable development. As my interest in and knowledge of physics grew, I resolved to share this discovery with others. This book is a gift of my discovery. It is one of a series.

Generally speaking, people can be grouped into two categories of intellectual preference. The first group prefers explorations which require a precision of logical processes. These are the people who become interested in the natural sciences and mathematics. They do not become scientists because of their education, they choose a scientific education because it gratifies their scientific mental set. The second group prefers explorations which involve the intellect in a less logically rigorous manner. These are the people who become interested in the liberal arts. They do not have a liberal arts mentality because of their education, they choose a liberal arts education because it gratifies their liberal arts mental set.

Since both groups are intelligent, it is not difficult for members of one group to understand what members of the other group are studying. However, I have discovered a notable communication problem between the two groups. Many times my physicist friends have attempted to explain a concept to me and, in their exasperation, have tried one explanation after another, each one of which sounded (to me) abstract, difficult to grasp, and generally abstruse. When I could comprehend, at last, what they were trying to communicate, inevitably I was surprised to discover that the idea itself was actually quite simple. Conversely, I often have tried to explain a concept in terms which seemed (to me) laudably lucid, but which, to my exasperation, seemed hopelessly vague, ambiguous, and lacking in precision to my physicist friends. I hope that this book will be a useful translation which will help those people who do not have a scientific mental set (like me) to understand the extraordinary process which is occurring in theoretical physics. Like any translation, it is not as good as the original work and, of course, it is subject to the shortcomings of the translator. For better or worse, my first qualification as a translator is that, like you, I am not a physicist.

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