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The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature (Dover Books on Physics) Reprint Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486485065
ISBN-10: 0486485064
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

American physicist Heinz Pagels (1939–1988) was Adjunct Professor of Physics at Rockefeller University as well as the Executive Director and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences and President of the International League for Human Rights.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Physics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition (March 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486485064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486485065
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is a shame that this book is out of print. Pagels' lucid explanations of the quantum world are the best within lay science publishing. I also believe that Pagels' rational approach is far and away a better introduction/exploration than the Eastern Mysticism-based books like Zukav's "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" or Fritjof Capra's "The Tao of Physics." Of course, those books are useful as entertainment (as exotic Parallelism) but it should be noted that the connections between Eastern Mysticism and Quantum Mechanics in regards to questions of conciousness and reality are not accepted as valid by any but a minuscule minority of thinkers. Pagels' approach is much more true to the thinking in new physics circles. In regards to a second edition that Mr. Beagle is hoping for, it will not be forthcoming due to the untimely demise of Pagels in a mountaineering accident in the late 80's. He is sorely missed! Also, for the very best in Computer Culture-related lay science (even though it is somewhat dated) I can't recommend his "The Dreams of Reason" highly enough - especially to those familiar with his other works! I've seen both books in used book shops many times.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a fan of this book since it was published in hard back in 1982 and recent re-reading remind me that it is still one of the best, most accessible lay books on quantum physics that has ever been written. It is a little hard to track down sometimes, but perhaps they will eventually reissue it. Unfortunately, Heinz Pagels died in a mountain climbing accident years ago and won't be able to update this wonderful book. It would be great if one of his many colleagues and admirers would undertake to do it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the best Quantum Physics book even written for the lay man. Infact, it might even be the best popular science book ever written. I have been a fan of this book for over 15 years and I feel that it is "must read" for every student involved or pursuing any branch of pure science (not necessarily physics).
Amazingly well explained concepts that stream you to the miniscule, abstract world of Quantum Mechanics.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A very good overview, written for the popular audience, of quantum physics, originally written in 1982, by physicist Heinz Pagels. The first part of the book deals with the history of the subject. The second part, the (then) newer stuff, including complex subjects like Bell's Theorem. Unfortunately, since Pagels died in a mountaineering accident in 1988, there hasn't been an update of the book (because of the speed of the scientific discovery, even the best science books can get quickly outdated). That's why the newer stuff in physics, mainly string theory, is not covered here. Still, a very good book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pagels' work is understandably the best layperson introduction to both interpreting and understanding Quantum Mechanics. It is a wonderful prelude to Omnes' book, Understanding Quantum Mechanics, and ties in much of elementary particle physics from Bohr to Gell-Mann.
The most remarkable part of this book is Pagels' lucid discussion on Bell's Inequality. Bell's Theorem, for those who are interested, forever demolishes the Einsteinian views of local causality, and of hidden variable determinism. Bell derived his classical probability and showed that either we have a violation of local causality (resulting in Einstein turning in his grave) OR, that if hidden variable theories are operative in the wave function, they do so non-locally (i.e. at the edge of spacetime).
In my own lectures and discussions, I have used Pagels' expose to derive a non two-additive Borel measure which explains the non-linear effects we see in actual polarization experiments of Bell's type. Indeed, Pagels gave life and meaning to my Complex-Valued Influence Probability Theory. In effect Pagels initial work, if read carefully, will expalin why we have quantum entanglement and the corkscrewing effects of oppositely-directed photons as they carry information non-locally and non-locally deterministically.
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Format: Hardcover
Pagels follows modern physics in an understandable way. If you had trouble understanding p-chem, this is the book for you. Not good for people who haven't had college physics or equivalent.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book which explains fully. in layman's terms.
what Quantum Theory is all about and, in addition, the errors of
the various comparisons with Eastern Religions that have surfaced from it. In addition, it explains in detail "Bell's Inequality"as it applies to the Quantum phenomenon of "Entanglement" which has been misinterpreted as proof of the existence of what Einstein called "spooky information at at distance," equivalent to Star Trek's "Beam Me Up Scotty!" E.G. Telepathy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Be prepared to think and get a few headaches on the first read. But Pagels book *is* accessible to the layman with a minumum of math. Many books of this type go out-on-a-limb with excessive references to buddhism and zen, Pagels sticks to the point with some humor, plenty of easily grasped analogies and some classic illustrations.

I first read this book back in 1983 and have now lent my worn paperback copy to my son who is a college freshman and is majoring in physics & computer engineering.

For a quick overview of the physics, I would recommend THIS book, I Asimov's "Understanding Physics" and B Russel's "Layman's Guide to Relativity".

I wonder when Pagel's will write a second edition?
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