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Thread: "physics envy"

  1. #1
    yuheci is offline Junior Member
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    Default "physics envy"

    Please could you teach me the meaning of a srong case of "physics envy," in the following context:

    .......The use of leeches and snake venom have been found to have a value in certain situations-but are used with great insight and delicacy now than in the past. But around this period the profession as a whole developed a srong case of "physics envy," wanting to embody the precision and predicatability characteristic of that science."

    Thank you for your time and help.

    Yu Heci

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: "physics envy"

    I am guessing that they wanted the respectability accorded something universally considered a true science. Thus the strong case of physics envy.


  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: "physics envy"

    ... and 'physics envy' is probably a half-jocular reference to a Freudian concept - Penis envy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    b

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: "physics envy"

    Apologia for my last post:

    I thought I'd better check on the collocation <noun> envy, to make sure that my reference to Freud wasn't gratuitous. So here are the BNC hits:

    1 PENIS ENVY 14
    2 CLASS ENVY 3
    3 OTHERS ENVY 2
    4 DEVIL ENVY 2
    5 SHOW ENVY 2
    6 SISTERS ENVY 1
    .
    .
    .
    (+ about a dozen more occurrences with only one hit).

    See for yourself at British National Corpus (BYU-BNC) .

    b

    PS
    The story isn't quite so clear in the COCA corpus (bigger, American usage):

    1 CLASS ENVY 41
    2 PENIS ENVY 28
    3 VENUS ENVY 13
    4 WOMEN ENVY 6
    5 BODY ENVY 5
    6 PEOPLE ENVY 5
    7 PHYSICS ENVY 4
    8 MEN ENVY 4
    9 WOMB ENVY 4
    10 MASSAGE ENVY 3
    .
    .
    .
    (+ many more - see http://www.americancorpus.org/ )

    One of the indications seems to be that the collocation "<noun> envy" is more common in American English than it is over here; also the positions of the first two items are reversed.
    Last edited by BobK; 25-Aug-2009 at 12:05. Reason: PS Added

  5. #5
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: "physics envy"

    I had, naturally, heard of penis envy, but I figured Bob would take care of that one. (I'm going to have to look up Venus envy.)
    Last edited by RonBee; 26-Aug-2009 at 20:01.

  6. #6
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "physics envy"

    Quote Originally Posted by yuheci View Post
    Please could you teach me the meaning of a srong case of "physics envy," in the following context:

    .......The use of leeches and snake venom have been found to have a value in certain situations-but are used with great insight and delicacy now than in the past. But around this period the profession as a whole developed a srong case of "physics envy," wanting to embody the precision and predicatability characteristic of that science."

    Thank you for your time and help.

    Yu Heci
    The answers to this initial post are by far satisfactory. I just would like to add the following:

    It is a fact that among the 'classical sciences' (physics, biology, chemistry), physics has obtained the greatest success in the past few centuries - mainly regarding general theories, with high predictive skills, such as quantum field theory, general relativity, restricted relativity and even quantum mechanics and classical mechanics.

    All these physical theories have in common a huge sense of beauty, a high degree of predictibility, and the use of advanced mathematical tools. Since Galileu introduced mathematics in physics, that science has experienced a undeniable enourmous progress.

    It is completely understandable that not just biology and chemistry but also many many other fields of human knowledge suffer such "physics envy".

    Of course I am not saying that physics is more important than any other science. The object of study of physics happens to be a little easier than others, so it is much easier to study 'matter and energy' for example, than a living being or the human brain relations.

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