Field of Science

Weird Words of Science 3

A term used for an obsession with and exaggerated reliance upon mathematical methods or results. (Source Oxford English Dictionary). For a long time, chemists considered quantum theorists (of which I am one) to be quantophrenics. The following quote summed it up well: "Every attempt to employ mathematical methods in the study of chemical questions must be considered profoundly irrational and contrary to the spirit of chemistry. If mathematical analysis should ever hold a prominent place in chemistry - an aberration which is happily almost impossible - it would occasion a rapid and widespread degeneration of that science." Auguste Comte, Cours de Philosophie Positive, 1830. Fortunately, quantum chemists persisted, and the methods they developed to treat chemical systems have become powerful tools for chemists in many areas.

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