The Tao of Physics

| January 6, 2013 | 0 Comments


Modern physics, in many ways, is so full of wonders and counterintuitive results, that it seems rather natural that it is often compared with mysticism. This is especially apparent when talking about quantum mechanics, which, ever since its creation in the beginning of the 20th century, attracted attention from those with an interest in occult and Psi phenomena. This is nicely illustrated in the popular book (and the lecture, which can be found here) “How the Hippies Saved Physics”, in which the author discusses the interesting times, back in the early 70s, when a considerable effort was being put, by many scientists, to explain the Psi stuff by using quantum mechanics entanglement in particular. All this draws a very interesting portrait of a time, when the discoveries of modern physics were so jaw dropping that it seemed that even telekinesis, telepathy and other Psi phenomena could be explained using quantum mechanics.

Author: Fritjof Capra

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: Shambhala (2010)

ISBN-10: 1590308352

ISBN-13: 978-1590308356

Kindle edition: (n/a)

Reviews: 94 customer reviews

Rating: ★★★★ Ranking: 20,023 US Version UK Version

It’s only natural, that during such a time, a book like “The Tao of Physics” appeared. This little gem by Gritjoj Capra is “an exploration of the parralels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism”. In this popular book, often cited between personal favourite books by many physicists, Capra discusses how modern physics can be related to Eastern mysticism. The book is divided into three major parts – “The Way of Physics”, “The Way of Eastern Mysticism” and “The Parallels”.

“Laplace, the great mathematician, set himself the ambitious task of refining and perfecting Newton’s calculations in a book which should ‘offer a complete solution of the great mechanical problem presented by the solar system, and bring theory to coincide so closely with observation that empirical equations would no longer find a place in astronomical tables.“

Laplace presented the first edition of his work to Napoleon, as the story goes-Napoleon remarked, ‘Monsieur Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.’ To this Laplace replied bluntly, ‘I had no need for that hypothesis.’

 This rather fun excerpt from the book illustrates the research that was put into this work. And the overall quality reflects the vast knowledge of the author. The same can be said about the “mystical” part of the book, which deals with the eastern mysticism. This is rather natural, as Capra had a great passion for the eastern philosophy. And this work is a junction of his two hobbies and passions – physics and eastern mysticism.

Now I know what some of you are thinking – isn’t it one of those new age books advertising a flawed world view that every mystical thing can be explained by physics. And the answer is actually no it’s not. The book does exactly what it promises – it overviews the parallels between two different philosophies. Still, if you have an allergy for anything mystical, don’t worry – this book can be read as three separate books. That is, you can read it, as a book of history and philosophy of physics, a book of eastern mysticism overview and a book that parallels the two world views. So choose your favourite and enjoy!

Overall, the book is really well-written and can be fully enjoyed by everyone. It is not too technical, thus it is quite easily accessible for everyday readers. As for physicists, I highly recommend it as well, for it is often mentioned among the favourites of many great scientists.

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