Murphy's Law

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Murphy's Law

(humour)
(Or "Sod's Law") The correct, *original* Murphy's Law reads: "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it." This is a principle of defensive design, cited here because it is usually given in mutant forms less descriptive of the challenges of design for lusers. For example, you don't make a two-pin plug symmetrical and then label it "THIS WAY UP"; if it matters which way it is plugged in, then you make the design asymmetrical (see also the anecdote under magic smoke).

Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was one of the engineers on the rocket-sled experiments that were done by the US Air Force in 1949 to test human acceleration tolerances (USAF project MX981). One experiment involved a set of 16 accelerometers mounted to different parts of the subject's body. There were two ways each sensor could be glued to its mount, and somebody methodically installed all 16 the wrong way around. Murphy then made the original form of his pronouncement, which the test subject (Major John Paul Stapp) quoted at a news conference a few days later.

Within months "Murphy's Law' had spread to various technical cultures connected to aerospace engineering. Before too many years had gone by variants had passed into the popular imagination, changing as they went. Most of these are variants on "Anything that can go wrong, will"; this is sometimes referred to as Finagle's Law. The memetic drift apparent in these mutants clearly demonstrates Murphy's Law acting on itself!
References in periodicals archive ?
In creating this atmosphere, we've been fortunate enough to have the wonderful illustrations of Jeremy Sancha to add warmth to the space and help us tell the story of how Finagle a Bagel has crafted the "fine art" of bagel baking.
The creative team of Encompass, including Charlie Conn, managing director; Ryan Maguire, designer; and Peter Newbery, interactive specialist, worked with the management team of Finagle a Bagel, including Larry Smith, president and founder; Heather Robertson, director of marketing, research & development and human resources; and Project Architect Erin Hunt of Warren Freedenfeld & Associates, the company's architectural firm, to launch the new retail location.
People pray to Father Vidicon, who they want to make a saint, to help them when Finagles General Principle operates in their lives.
Mort finagles a nice old couple into purchasing an expensive therapeutic bed they don't really need, for more money than advertised, on the poorest terms around.
Ellen then finagles her way into becoming Thompson's assistant and tries to persuade her to come out publicly.
A light send-up of erotic science fiction fantasies in the heat of summer escapism, Aeros (please note the pun) sends multicolored aliens onstage and finagles a love interest between an apparently human male pilot ISantillano) and a female alien (Rebecca Anderson).
The bank finagles a tricky way to illegally foreclose on the restaurant just before Christmas.
Spurring his salvation is a gay inmate named Horst, a would-be nurse who stirs Max's dormant heart after Max finagles Horst a mindless job lifting rocks to keep him company.
Taxpayers United's lawsuit against the State of Michigan will be activated in Ingham County court Judge James Giddings' courtroom immediately after Engler finagles a majority vote out of the Joint Senate-House Capital Outlay Committee.
The principle is understood by every practicinglawyer, accountant, and investment banker in America: red tape multiplies in parallel with the profusion of finagles it seeks to contain, and vice versa.
He eventually finagles his way to the top, becoming a big time movie producer.
No, it's same old, same old City Hall, spouting nice words while carrying out the same old finagles.