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The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 333 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553246259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553246254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Especially an update, since written back in 1980.
James A. Young
If you can find Pagels in a used bookstore, you will enjoy the read - and actually feel like you understand something about quantum physics!
J. J. Roper
This is the best Quantum Physics book even written for the lay man.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1999
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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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Fletcher VINE VOICE on July 15, 2002
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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 1, 2003
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andres C. Salama on July 19, 2007
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1998
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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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. Vento on July 18, 2001
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 1997
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Mollica on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was mentioned in a previous book I have read (The Biology of Belief - Lipton). This book easily explains a tough subject like quantum physics. I found it strange that someone like myself (mostly read spiritual books) would enjoy a scientific discussion of the very small. I could not put the book down. If you enjoy reading spiritual books, you will enjoy this book.
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