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       The Dancing Wu Li Masters, p.1

           Gary Zukav
The Dancing Wu Li Masters

  Gary Zukav

  The Dancing Wu Li Masters

  An Overview of the New Physics

  This book is dedicated to you, who

  are drawn to read it.

  Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.

  —Albert Einstein1

  Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached.

  —Werner Heisenberg2

  If you cannot—in the long run—tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.

  —Erwin Schrödinger3



  Synoptic Table of Contents

  Cast of Characters

  Foreword by David Finkelstein

  Introduction to the Perennial Classics Edition


  Wu Li?

  Big Week at Big Sur

  Einstein Doesn’t Like It

  Patterns of Organic Energy


  What Happens

  My Way

  The Role of “I”


  Beginner’s Mind

  Special Nonsense

  General Nonsense

  I Clutch My Ideas

  The Particle Zoo

  The Dance


  More Than Both

  The End of Science



  Searchable Terms

  Stable Particle Table


  About the Author



  About the Publisher

  Synoptic Table of Contents

  WU LI? (Introduction)

  Big Week at Big Sur

  Physics (3), Esalen (4), Chinese and English (5–6), Wu Li Masters (7), scientists and technicians (10), the sodium spectrum (11–12), Bohr’s model of the atom (14).

  Einstein Doesn’t Like It

  The new physics and the old physics (20), Newton’s physics (22), the Great Machine (24), do we create reality? (30), the myth of objectivity (32), subatomic “particles” (34), statistics (35), the kinetic theory of gases (36), probability (37), the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (40), pragmatism (41), split-brain analysis (42), summary of the new physics and the old physics (44).


  (Quantum Mechanics)


  Organic and inorganic (49), Max Planck (52), “discontinuous” (53), black-body radiation (54), Planck’s constant (56), Albert Einstein (57), Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect (58), waves, wavelengths, frequencies, and amplitudes (60), diffraction (63), Young’s double-slit experiment (66), the wave-particle duality (70), probability waves (72).

  What Happens

  The procedure of quantum mechanics (74), the region of preparation (75), the region of measurement (75), the observed system (76), the observing system (76), the Schrödinger wave equation (77), observables (77), particles as “correlations” (78), wave functions (80), probability functions (81), quantum jumps (83), the Theory of Measurement (87), the metaphysics of quantum mechanics (88), the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (92), Schrödinger’s cat (94), Doubting Thomas (97).

  MY WAY (Quantum Mechanics)

  The Role of “I”

  The “in here—out there” illusion (102), complementarity (103), Compton scattering (103), Louis de Broglie (106), matter waves (107), Erwin Schrödinger (110), standing waves (110), the Pauli exclusion principle (114), the Schrödinger wave equation (again) (114), Max Born (117), probability waves (again) (117), the quantum model of the atom (119), Werner Heisenberg (121), the S Matrix (122), the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (123), the tables are turned (127).

  NONSENSE (Relativity)

  Beginner’s Mind

  Nonsense (131), the beginner’s mind (132), the special theory of relativity (134), the Galilean relativity principle (138), inertial co-ordinate systems (138), Galilean transformations (140), the constancy of the speed of light (142), the ether (145), the Michelson-Morley experiment (145), FitzGerald contractions (148), Lorentz transformations (148).

  Special Nonsense

  The special theory of relativity (150), “proper” and “relative” length and time (155), Terrell’s rotation explanation of relativistic contraction (159), relativistic mass increase (162), simultaneity (162), the space-time continuum (167), the space-time interval (171), Hermann Minkowski (173), mass-energy (173), conservation laws (176).

  General Nonsense

  Gravity and acceleration (181), inside and outside the elevators (181), gravitational mass and inertial mass (186), the geography of the space-time continuum (188), Euclidean geometry (191), the revolving circles (193), non-Euclidean geometry (196), Einstein’s ultimate vision (200), Mercury’s perihelion (201), starlight deflection (203), gravitational redshift (204), Black Holes (205), the illusion of “force” (208), the illusion of “nonsense” (209).

  I CLUTCH MY IDEAS (Particle Physics)

  The Particle Zoo

  The barriers to change (213), the hall of mirrors (215), the new world view (215), particle physics (216), bubble chambers (218), the dance of creation and annihilation (219), what made the tracks? (221), quantum field theory (222), the need to pretend (224), particle masses (226), massless particles (228), charge (229), spin (230), angular momentum (231), quantum numbers (234), anti-particles (235).

  The Dance

  Space-time diagrams (237), Feynman diagrams (239), the dance of creation and annihilation (again) (240), anti-particles (again) (242), the illusion of time (245), entropy (246), virtual photons (247), the electromagnetic force (251), Hideki Yukawa (252), the strong force (252), virtual mesons (254), self-interactions (254), gravity (260), the weak force (260), virtual photons (again) (261), vacuum diagrams (266), conservation laws (269), symmetries (271), quarks (272), the S Matrix (again) (272).


  (Quantum Logic & Bell’s Theorem)

  More Than Both

  Physics and enlightenment (283), Bell’s theorem and quantum logic (285), John von Neumann (286), the description of a wave function (286), “Projections as Propositions” (288), David Finkelstein (290), symbols and experience (290), logos and mythos (290), the distributive law (292), polarization of light (293), the third polarizer paradox (297), superpositions (299), quantum logic (301), “proof” (301), transition tables (303), lattices (305), von Neumann’s disproof of the distributive law (302), quantum topology (311).

  The End of Science

  Enlightenment and unity (312), J. S. Bell (313), quantum connectedness (313), the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought experiment (314), superluminal communication (319), the principle of local causes (320), Bell’s theorem (322), the Freedman-Clauser experiment (323), the Aspect experiment (327), contrafactual definiteness (332), superdeterminism (333), the Many Worlds Theory (again) (333), summary (335), the philosophy of quantum mechanics (338), David Bohm (339), unbroken wholeness (339), implicate order (340), the “new” thought instrument (341), eastern psychologies (342), the metaphor of physics (343), Kali (345), the Path without Form (347), the circle dance (348).

  Cast of Characters

  Thomas Young

  1803 (double-slit experiment)

  Albert Michelson, Edward Morley

  1887 (Michelson-Morley experiment)

  George Francis FitzGerald

  1892 (FitzGerald contractions)

  Hendrik Antoon Lorentz

  1893 (Lorentz transformations)


p; 1897 (discovered)

  Max Planck

  1900 (quantum hypothesis)

  Albert Einstein

  1905 (photon theory)

  1905 (special theory of relativity)

  Hermann Minkowski

  1908 (space-time)


  1911 (discovered)

  Niels Bohr

  1913 (specific-orbits model of the atom)

  Albert Einstein

  1915 (general theory of relativity)

  Louis de Broglie

  1924 (matter waves)

  Niels Bohr, H. A. Kramers, John Slater

  1924 (first concept of probability waves)

  Wolfgang Pauli

  1925 (exclusion principle)

  Werner Heisenberg

  1925 (matrix mechanics)

  Erwin Schrödinger

  1926 (Schrödinger wave equation)

  1926 (equates matrix mechanics with wave mechanics)

  1926 (visits Bohr in Copenhagen to attack the idea of quantum jumps—and gets the flu)

  Max Born

  1926 (probability interpretation of wave function)

  Niels Bohr

  1927 (complementarity)

  Clinton Davisson, Lester Germer

  1927 (Davisson-Germer experiment)

  Werner Heisenberg

  1927 (uncertainty principle)

  Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics


  Paul Dirac

  1928 (anti-matter)


  1932 (discovered)


  1932 (discovered)

  John Von Neumann

  1932 (quantum logic)

  Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, Nathan Rosen

  1935 (EPR paper)

  Hideki Yukawa

  1935 (predicts meson)


  1947 (discovered)

  Richard Feynman

  1949 (Feynman diagrams)

  Sixteen New Particles

  1947–1954 (discovered)

  Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics


  David Finkelstein

  1958 (one-way membrane hypothesis)


  1962 (discovered)


  1964 (hypothesized)

  J. S. Bell

  1964 (Bell’s theorem)

  David Bohm

  1970 (implicate order)

  Henry Stapp

  1971 (nonlocal connections re: Bell’s theorem)

  Stuart Freedman, John Clauser

  1972 (Freedman-Clauser experiment)

  Twelve New Particles

  1974–1977 (discovered)

  Alain Aspect

  1982 (Aspect experiment)


  When Gary Zukav announced his plans for this book, creating the outline with Al Huang and me watching at a dinner table at Esalen, 1976, I did not realize the magnitude of the job he took on with such joy. Watching the book grow has been instructive and rewarding, because Zukav has insisted on going through the whole evolution of the quantum relativistic physics of today, treating it as it is, an unfolding story. As a result this book is not only readable, but it also puts the reader in touch with all the various ways that physicists have worked out for talking about what is so hard to talk about. In short, Gary Zukav has written a very good book for laymen.

  Zukav’s attitude to physics is rather close to mine, so I must be a layman too, and it is more stimulating to talk physics with him than with most professionals. He knows that physics is—among other things—an attempt to harmonize with a much greater entity than ourselves, requiring us to seek, formulate and eradicate first one and then another of our most cherished prejudices and oldest habits of thought, in a never-ending quest for the unattainable.

  Zukav has graciously offered me this place to add my own emphases to his narrative. Since it has been three years since we met, I must sift my memory for a while.

  Migrating whales come to mind first. I remember us standing on the Esalen cliffs and watching them cavort as they headed south. Next comes to mind beautiful Monarch butterflies, dotting the fields from the first day, and covering one magic tree as thick as leaves in a grand finale. Between the whales and the butterflies it was difficult for us to feel self-important and very easy for us to play.

  The very difficulty of communicating with the physicists at Esalen helped me to realize how differently most physicists think about quantum mechanics than I do. Not that my way is new, it is one of two ways already pointed out in John Von Neumann’s 1932 book, The Mathematical Foundation of Quantum Mechanics:

  Quantum mechanics deals with propositions defined by processes of preparation and observation involving subject and object and obeying a new logic; not with objective properties of the object alone.

  Quantum mechanics deals with objective properties of the object alone, obeying the old logic, but they jump in a random way when an observation is made.

  Most working physicists seem to see one of these ways (the second) and not the other. Perhaps personality can determine the direction of science. I think there are “thing” minds and “people” minds. Good parents, psychologists and writers have to be “people” people, while mechanics, engineers and physicists tend to be “thing” people. Physics has become too scary for such physicists because it is already so thingless. New evolutions, as profound as those of Einstein and Heisenberg, are waiting for a new generation of more daring and integrated thinkers.

  While most physicists take for granted the quantum tools of their daily work, there is a vanguard already testing roads to the next physics, and a rearguard still conscientiously holding the road back to the old. Bell’s theorem is mainly important to the latter, and its prominence in the book does not mean it uncovers problems in present-day quantum physics. Rather Bell’s theorem drives toward a view that most physicists already assume: that quantum mechanics is something new and different.

  Here it helps to distinguish between a complete theory, predicting everything, what Newtonians look for (it does not seem that Newton was a strict Newtonian, since he wanted God to reset the world clock now and then) and a maximal theory, predicting as much as possible, what quantum physicists look for. In spite of their controversy, Einstein and Bohr both agreed, in their different ways, that quantum mechanics is incomplete, and even that it is not yet maximal. What they really debated was whether or not an incomplete theory can be maximal. Throughout their famous controversy Einstein argued, “Alas, our theory is too poor for experience,” and Bohr replied, “No, no! Experience is too rich for our theory”; just as some existential philosophers despair at the indeterminacy of life and the existence of choices, and others feel élan vital.

  One of the features of quantum mechanics that leads to such controversy is its concern with the nonexistent, the potential. There is some of this in all language, or words could only be used once, but quantum mechanics is more involved with probabilities than classical mechanics. Some people feel this discredits quantum theory, makes it less than maximal theory. So it is important to mention in defense of quantum theory that in spite of indeterminacy, quantum mechanics can be entirely expressed in yes-or-no terms about individual experiments, just like classical mechanics, and that probabilities can be derived as a law of large numbers and need not be postulated. I prefer to state the difference between classical and quantum theories not as presented in textbooks, but thus: Once sufficient data is given, classical mechanics gives yes-or-no answers for all further questions while quantum mechanics simply leaves unanswered some questions in the theory, to be answered by experience. I wish here also to note the regrettable tendency, in myself also, to feel that quantum mechanics must thereby deny physical existence to those answers that are found in experience only, not in the theory, such as the momentum of a localized electron. So involved are we in our symbol systems.

  After a week of talking, the conference was still working on th
e elements of quantum logic, and never did get far into the new quantum time concepts we wanted to try out, but it made it easier to move on to the next set of problems, which occupy me today. Quantum mechanics is characterized by its unanswered questions. Some logicians, Martin Davis for one, have suggested these may be related to the undecidable propositions dominating logic since Gödel. I used to know better. Nowadays I think they may be right, the common element being reflexivity and the impossibility for finite systems of total self-knowledge. The proper study of mankind is endless, it seems. I hope these ideas work out and Gary Zukav writes a book about them. He does it well.


  New York

  July 1978

  Introduction to the Perennial Classics Edition

  When I wrote The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, I had never written a book and I had never studied physics. In fact, I didn’t like science and I had no mathematical aptitudes. Yet while I was writing The Dancing Wu Li Masters, I knew it would be published and that it would be very well received. I also knew that it would sell very well for many years after its publication. I did not need to have faith in these things. I knew them. I could see them. It was clear to me that all I needed to do to make them happen was to continue writing. In other words, to do was my part. I knew that without my part, none of what I saw would happen, and that with my part, it was already accomplished.

  I was the key. Everything depended only upon my doing what I was already doing—writing about physics, studying physics, discussing physics, and writing about it again each day. That was no problem for me because I loved doing those things. I woke thinking about the ideas in The Dancing Wu Li Masters and I went to sleep thinking about them the same way that some people wake in the morning and go to sleep at night thinking about a Beloved. Every decision about what word or words to use, what ideas to include, and how to present a discussion was made with the reader in mind. “The reader,” no matter whom I pictured in that role, was always someone who was intelligent—perhaps more intelligent than I. He or she was keenly interested in all that I had to share, but had no background in science or mathematics.

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