Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law - Always Strikes On FridayLesser Known Murphy's Laws

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Definition of Murphy's Law

If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong Murphy's law: If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong
(Sometimes known as the 4th law of Thermodynamics).

I have traced Murphy's law back to a Captain Edward A. Murphy, an American engineer at Muroc, California (later named Edwards Air Force Base).  In 1949 he was working on a project to test the effects of sudden braking.  Time after time his machinery failed, exasperated he said of his technician, 'If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll  find it.' John Paul Stapp picked up on Murphy's phrase and used at a press conference.

As with any good idea, Murphy's Law can be adapted and extended.

1st Amendment
If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.

2nd Amendment
If you realize that there are three possible ways in which something can go wrong, and cover them all, then a fourth, unprepared for way, will miraculously appear out of thin air.

3rd Amendment
When something breaks, the parts damaged are in direct proportion to their value.

4th Amendment
The failure does not appear until the machinery has passed its final inspection.

5th Amendment
When you drop a part, it always rolls into the darkest corner.

Last Amendment to Murphy's law
Any attempt to print out this copy of Murphy's law will crash the computer.

Examples of Murphy's LawMurphy's law - Needle

  • Your lost needle will be found by your husband when he is walking around barefoot.
  • The worst pupil in any class will be a school governor's son.
  • Uniforms only come in two sizes, too large and too small.
  • Vital documents that were posted with no errors, will develop errors in the mail.
  • The other queue always moves faster.
  • In order to get a bank loan, you must first prove that you don't need the money.
  • The classic example of Murphy's law:  If you drop a piece of toast it always falls buttered side down.

Other Factors When Studying Murphy's Law

Finagle's Rider
Anything that can go wrong, will-at the worst possible moment.

Forsyth's Corollary
Just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, the roof caves in.

Gumperson's Law
The probability of anything happening is in inverse ratio to its desirability.

Zymurgy's Law
Once you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can them is to use a larger can.

Hanlon's Razor
Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice.

Brook's Law
Adding manpower to a project that is behind schedule will delay it further.

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Inverse of Murphy's Law

If something does go right subsequent events will show that it would have been better if it had gone wrong.

Kindly sent in by Stephen Willis

To Be Confused with Murphy's Inverse Law

When jammy toast is dropped the probability of it landing jammy side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.  [Kindly sent in by Brian Davsion.]

Lesser Known Murphy's LawsLesser Known Murphy's Laws

  • Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  • Those who live by the sword, get shot by those who don't.
  • Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
  • The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
  • If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, five or six at a time, on a hill, in the fog.
  • If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
  • The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first.
  • Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day, drinking beer.
  • Flashlight: A metal tube used to store dead batteries.
  • The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
  • A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
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Murphy's Law of DIY (Do-It-Yourself )

Any project will require at least two journeys to the hardware shop.

If you need more than one item (pair, four, etc) the probability that one will be damaged or the wrong colour is directly proportional to the desire or need of the object.

You always need more paint.

You never have enough nails, screws or glue.

The likelihood that you will complete a weekend project before the end of the weekend decreases with when you actually start the project.

Therefore: Any plumbing project started after 4pm on Sunday will require an emergency call to the plumber to get the water running again.

To estimate the amount of time needed to complete a project: estimate the amount of time needed, multiply by two and use the next highest unit. Hence: A one hour task will take at least two days to complete.

Twenty Fabulously Funny Examples of Murphy's Law

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  1. Law of Mechanical Repair - After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to go to the rest room.
  2. Law of Gravity - Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.
  3. Law of Probability - The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
  4. Law of Random Numbers - If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.
  5. Law of the Alibi - If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tyre, the very next morning you will have a flat tyre.
  6. Guy's Variation Rider - If you change queues or traffic lanes, the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now. This also works in supermarkets and shops.
  7. Law of the Bath - When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.
  8. Decree of Close Encounters - The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with. This is also the case if you are female and you have gone out with no makeup and wearing your worst clothes and with greasy hair.
  9. Murphy's Office Law - When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will. Will also finds this when he shows someone that something on the computer is easy and it doesn't work.
  10. Law of Biomechanics - The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
  11. Law of the Theatre - At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.
  12. The Starbucks Edict - As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
  13. Murphy's Law of Lockers - If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.
  14. Law of Physical Surfaces - The chances of an open-faced marmalade sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet.
  15. The Conundrum of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
  16. Brown's Law of Physical Appearance - If the shoe fits, it's ugly.
  17. Oliver's Rule of Public Speaking - A closed mouth gathers no feet. Will's favourite!
  18. Wilson's Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy - As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.
  19. Doctors' Law - If you don't feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you'll feel better. Don't make an appointment and you'll stay sick.
  20. Will and Guy's Law - If you don't save things on your computer you will, sooner rather than later, delete them.

Godwin's Law (Also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies)

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This internet law was proposed by Mike Godwin back in 1990. His law states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (certainty)".

Occam's Razor*

The simplest model is most likely to be correct.  This is always true when we are dealing with unusual phenomena such as what created crop circles.

This principle of parsimony was developed by William of Occam.  He states that a person should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything, or that the person should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed.

Blore's Razor* - Will and Guy's Favourite

Given a choice between two theories, take the one which is the funnier.

* Razor in the sense of 'Razor's edge', having to make a tricky decision.

Vaguely Related to Murphy's Law - The Totalitarian Principle

The Totalitarian Principle declares that anything which is not forbidden by any specific rule of physics, is required by law to occur, with no exceptions.

Whatever is not forbidden is compulsory.

The above is a form of what is called the Totalitarian Principle.  The phrase was first used by physicist Murray Gell-Mann in reference to the laws that might be issued by a totalitarian government seeking full control over their citizens.

 

Footnote:
Please send us your examples of Murphy's Law.

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