Book Review - The Dancing Wu Li Masters

This weekend, during the rides back and forth to Chicago (I'll explain later) I had the opportunity to finish a fantastic book. The Dancing Wu Li Masters : An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav is a fascinating book that explores the revolution that has been taking place in physics since Einstein's theory of relativity and the birth of quantum physics. The book is made even better in that, rather than dive into the mathematical background behind the concepts of subatomic particles, quantum mechanics, relativity, and other theories, Zukav relates at almost a layman's level. Certainly a basic understanding of mechanics and would help, but really the less you know about physics, the better. This is due to the nature of what modern physics has discovered: the world doesn't work like we perceive it to work. So the fewer preconceived notions you have, the better.

About a third of the way through reading this book, I was sure that all physicist must be on some serious mind altering drugs. Concepts like Schroedinger's cat, multiple worlds, and relativity are just so different from the way we think about our world, that it is very difficult to wrap your mind around the concepts immediately. I think that is the gift that the great physicists of our time have. They have the ability to give up everything they have learned through experiencing the world, and accept new ways of thinking about how the world works.

If you are at all interested in what modern physics is saying about how our world works, if you just want an opportunity to marvel at the wacked out things these folks are thinking, I highly encourage you to pick up this book. I came away from it with a real sense of awe and wonder about how our world works.


Absenth said...

I'm going to have to pick that book up based on your review. I have a couple of friends who have studied in depth many aspects of MetaPhysics. I don't know if I put much stock in the things they have described, however it's hard to discount things just because we don't understand them.

Quantum Mechanics are a bit beyond my feeble minds grasp, but hey... That's why we have physicists.

Adam said...

What really impressed me about this book is the way Zukav presents the material. He is never condescending, but he relates the material in way that, 90% of the time, I understood what he was trying to say.

Anonymous said...

I was going to write something really nasty about physics, but then I realized how mean and spiteful that would make me sound. I'll just sum up by saying, I'm glad you like the book, but Physics and P-Chem (the evil spawn of physics and chemistry) were my LEAST favorite subjects in school. But if there is ever a similar book on the impact of modern day chemisty....I'm all over it ;)

Kingery Family Blog said...

I'm sure you'll be surprised to know that I would be interested in that book. A housewife who doesn't think mathematically beyond arithmatic and can't keep a checkbook straight! I love watching shows on PBS about physics! To me it is faith affirming. Seems the more they discover, the more it lines up with the bible! Genesis describes the universe as chaotic, then God speaks and orders the form of earth, sky, day, night, etc. I see it this way, mathematics (physics) are the mechanical methods to creation, resulting from the expressed desire. Example: company CEO says, "make a doohickey"...the engineers employ work out the creation of the doohickey. The physics show I watched also talked about "alternate" universes....wich to me confirms the biblical explanation of the physical and spiritual. PS Johnna is taking physics2 at Purdue right now...she hates it...hehe

Adam said...

The more I read of the book, the more it seemed to be a discussion of philosophy than physics. Then again, the author argues that, since physics is the science and study of how our world works, and philosophy is the science and study of how we perceive our world, the two are truly the same subject.

Jade Mason