37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
The Best Quantum Physics Overview,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics As the Language of Nature (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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Initial post: Jan 27, 2009 8:57:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2009 9:02:35 PM PST
What hasn't been mentioned in these reviews is that the Cosmic Code is not an easy read provided the general reader wants to fully understand the ideas Dr. Pagels is trying to convey. Bells inequality is a good example of this in that the theorem is easy to understand given parts of the Classical example & quite difficult to grasp given the Quantum Mechanical example - it takes quite a bit of self determination & many re-reads to fully grasp the ideas Dr. Pagels is trying to convey to the reader through his explanations & illustrations. Part of the problem I found was that not every idea discussed was fully illustrated - The reader has to use a good deal of hard logic & clever reasoning on most of the ideas presented to draw the correct conclusions. I found myself reading & reading whole sections again & again trying to get a full grasp of the ideas covered by the explanations & illustrations. Often times I found that my initial understanding was miles off the marker. It's an excellent read but not a book that can be read lightly or even once as some sections take several reads to get a firm grasp of what the writer is trying to convey. Anyone on here who states they've read the book once & fully enjoyed it without any rudimentary understanding of physics is not being truthful. The difficulty of this book is in fully understanding the ideas that are being conveyed to the reader through illustrations & explanations. To sum up like Hawking's brief book "A brief history of time" the "Cosmic Code" looks deceptively simple at first glance however the difficulty of the book emerges just as it does in Hawkings little book when the reader tries to fully understand & grasp the slippery concepts behind Pagels explanations & illustrations of particles & their behavior in the Quantum world.
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