Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature” as Want to Read:
The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  335 ratings  ·  27 reviews
"The Cosmic Code can be read by anyone. I heartily recommend it!" — The New York Times Book Review
"A reliable guide for the nonmathematical reader across the highest ridges of physical theory. Pagels is unfailingly lighthearted and confident." — Scientific American
"A sound, clear, vital work that deserves the attention of anyone who takes an interest in the relationship between m"The
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 14th 2012 by Dover Publications (first published 1982)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cosmic Code, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cosmic Code

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  335 ratings  ·  27 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pagels' work is probably one of the best layperson introduction to both understanding and "interpreting" Quantum Mechanics. The most remarkable part of this book is the description of Bell's Inequality. Bell's Theorem forever demolishes the Einsteinian views of of local hidden variable determinism.
It is (purposely) light on the maths side (for example, I would have appreciated some detail on fundamental items such as the Wave Equation, Bohr's model of the atom, Schroedinger Equation, wave
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being written in 1982, this book is a wonderful non-mathematical introduction to Quantum Theory for the layperson. As for me, Pagels did a superb job in explaining quite a number of QM related concepts, such as randomness and probability distributions, the Bell's inequality, the Schroedinger's cat analogy and why the second law of thermodynamics cannot in fact be obtained from just the laws of motion of all the individual particles, as well as why infinities are obtained for the mass of ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Written in the mid-1980s and stands as a solid popular science book on 20th-century physics. A physicist at a dead show back in the 1980s recommended Pagels to read if I was interested in Physics. I have read a lot of physics books in the meantime but I finally got around to the book he recommended. Thanks, Pagels is pretty good. I should have read him sooner.
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book if you are at all interested in physics, Einstein's theory of relativity, and quantum mechanics. This book explains things for the layman better than most although the book was written 27 years ago and some of his information is obviously out of date. Relativity and quantum mechanics have replaced Newtonian physics as the accepted reality of our universe. The Newtonian physics view of reality was based on the idea that once the universe started all following events were predetermined ...more
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can face Pagel's "Cosmic Code" directly with Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" as a way of confronting the two sides of the most widely known fields of physics being investigated: quantum mechanics and astrophysics.

Pagel is able to discuss complex features of quantum mechanics through a simple approach and, even though the book is already somewhat old, the passion and the relevance of the chosen topics to approach render this book as an almost timeless effort.

For any fan of scien
Christopher Nixon
A useful introduction

The Cosmic Code (the book) provides a thorough introduction to the field of quantum physics by exploring its historical development over the course of the 20th century, key questions, experimental breakthroughs, most impactful contributing scientists, and future directions.

Is it an easy book to read? While it's supposedly written for the lay person, it does contain a lot of scientific ideas and concepts, and it's not as easy to follow as say, your typical story book, self help
The  Conch
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Those who wants to learn a world inside the world can read this book. The spectacular world of microcosmos consisting of proton, positron, electron, gluon, lepton, hadron, neutrino, quarks so on and on....just passing through us unnoticed silently.

After reading this book, I feel accuracy of Vedanta. The world is a playing field of Shiva - Shakti.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Interesting and I wonder how much holds up 40 years later.
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book to the point of sentimentality. I don't know how applicable the science still is. Physics has advanced in the years since Pagels wrote it. However, it is accessible to a neophyte, and yet, I think it does not do a terrible disservice to physics. Anyway, it left me with a love of the subject and a deep respect for the science.

I asked my favorite bookseller, and my prof, for a book that would give me a basic overview of quantum physics. Not the math, just the concepts facing phys
Alan Johnson
I substantially read this book in the late 1990s and have picked it up again in my current study of the issue of free will versus determinism. The book is an excellent and accessible introduction to quantum mechanics by a quantum physicist who died at age 49 in 1988. I especially like his discussion of determinism and indeterminism. As he states on page 123: "Without the possibility of error and real indeterminacy implied by the quantum theory, human liberty is meaningless. [new paragraph] The G ...more
May be the last quantum physics book I attempt to digest. "No look, really it's very simple...even though not visualizable. But it's rational...and sure, maybe sometimes it just looks like we're playing word games with you and the rest of the universe...but this is how the world really works...even though all our theories aren't really discoveries but inventions..." Eek. Got a bit eerie btw for those last couple of paragraphs with him talking about his fears/dreams of a mountaineering accident ( ...more
Trevor Hallberg
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was unbelievably amazing. I am a chemical engineer but have never taken a quantum physics class. This book described quantum physics in a way that I could easily understand and left me mind-blown, wishing there were more! This book challenged my faith and sparked a passion for pursuing knowledge about the quantum world.
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heinz Pagels wrote this with supreme clarity. Written in the 1980s, while it does not cover some of the latest thinking in quantum physics, it does a brilliant job of explaining the building blocks of quantum weirdness. This is not a pop science book - it's gets down into the weeds. The motivated reader, willing to put in the hard work, will be rewarded.
Mitch Allen
From as much as I read Pagels presents a reasonable survey of quantum theory, but nothing that I hadn't encountered elsewhere. The lack of any new ideas or perspectives and the uneven writing led me to drop the book halfway through. Nothing wrong with what's here, but there are better options available.
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first popscience physics book i read. started the slowish journey to realizing that not only could i get the basic concepts in quantum physics but that they totally blew my mind in the very best of ways- making me curious & in awe. so unlike my highschool physics teacher who just made me feel dumb.
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Buku saya tekuni sewaktu di Asasi UM dulu.

Setelah agak bosan dgn teori einstein, saya mula mendalami teori kuantum dengan segala kepelikannya.

Buku yang terbaik selepas buku Hawking. Membacanya seolah-oleh berada dalam bilik kuliah!
Hangci Du
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Read Chinese version. It is really a wonderful book, it is worth ten stars. Accurate concise thinking venation, goes down so deep humanistic concern, made bold imagination. the book is the source of most of Liu Cixin thoughts. Is really great. I am to read other works by the author.
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best introduction to Quantum Physics I've read. Clear, light on the maths, good analogies for the more mind-bending concepts. Finally think I get Bell's Inequality and implications, and settling on a favourite interpretation of the measurement problem, which is a win for this book.
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been 28 years since I last read this. I recall that I thought it excellent but will need to re-read it to be certain. I'm sure a few things are out-dated (the discover of the tau neutrino, for example, post dates the edition I have). Vive la science!
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful and balanced book suited for readers who enjoy a fine blend of philosophy, quantum physics without getting into the nitty gritty details of mathematics- although that will certainly be useful if one is looking to read at a more in-depth level.
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This brought me up to speed from my last course in the early '70s, Quantum & Statistical. The author makes it not merely understandable, but quite interesting. Highly recommended for those who have an interest in this area.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good book for understanding quantum physics, but a little dated by 2015 standards.
Yusuf Zayed
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
that book is an amazing one if you wanna have a glimpse about quantum mechanics.
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers with an interest in science
I read this when I was a kid and it was very influential to me.
Randy Benson
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a wonderful overview on the nature of the revolutions of science in recent centuries, focusing on relativity and quantum theory. . .informative and entertaining.

great to read, great to re-read.
Peng Gao
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book in high school ;))
A good primer on quantum physics (from the early eighties) but I found some of his analogies clunky.
Matt Lynch
rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Oct 27, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2009
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Quantum Reality
  • Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics
  • The Ghost in the Atom: A Discussion of the Mysteries of Quantum Physics
  • The Prism and the Pendulum: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments in Science
  • Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists
  • The Nature Of The Physical World
  • The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World
  • Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory: The Theoretical Minimum
  • Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future
  • Spectrums: Our Mind-boggling Universe from Infinitesimal to Infinity
  • Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists
  • The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics from Albert Einstein to Stephen W. Hawking & from Annie Dillard to John Updike
  • Spacetime Physics
  • The Arrow of Time
  • Who Got Einstein's Office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study
  • About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang
  • Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes
  • General Relativity
See similar books…
“Nature knows nothing of imperfection; imperfection is a human perception of nature. Inasmuch as we are part of nature we are also perfect; it is our humanity that is imperfect. And, ironically, because of our capacity for imperfection and error we are free beings—a freedom that no stone or animal can enjoy. Without the possibility of error and real indeterminacy implied by the quantum theory, human liberty is meaningless. The God that plays dice has set us free.” 3 likes
“The most important questions of life are, for the most part, really only problems of probability. —MARQUIS DE LAPLACE       A” 3 likes
More quotes…