www.whyville.net Mar 10, 2013 Weekly Issue

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Murphy's Law

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Have you ever switched a long line for another line, only for it to backfire and be even slower? Have you ever kept yourself in your hand anticipating a text or a call, and when you finally put it away, it rings/vibrates? In that case, you've just experienced Murphy's Laws firsthand.

Murphy's Laws in its most basic form is, when there is a chance that something can go wrong, it will.

Now, do we really believe in a law that states some unknown force/factors makes everything go wrong? Of course not. In fact, us human beings are responsible for making Murphy's Laws seem true.

The laws point out our tendency as humans to rationalize all the negative events that occur in our life. Instead of pondering over the good things in life, we settle with glooming over the negative. We expect the positive to happen, and think little of it.

Now where did such a law come from? Captain Edward A. Murphy Jr. himself.

Murphy lived in the U.S. and was an engineer for the Air Force. The job description incorporated testing out the designs -- this included the infamous, fluke that brought way to the laws.

Murphy's job on the "Gee Whiz" was to place sensors on the harnesses of the rocket sled which would measure the force of Gravity. On the first test run, Murphy misplaced all the sensors, that even had two ways of connecting. Later, Murphy grumbled to one of the technicians about how,"If there are two ways to do something, and one of the ways will result in disaster, he'll do it that way."

The statement made its way into aerospace publications, popular culture, and it's very own book. This law inspired thousands upon thousands of individual rules, and observations. Some of my personal favorite are:

- Boob's Law: You will always find something in the last place you look

- Issawi's Law of the Path of Progress: A shortcut is the longest distance between two points.

The law was so powerful, it was transformed into a mathematical equation by Joel Pel. The equation below calculates the occurrence of Murphy's Law:

I=importance of event
C=complexity of the event
U=urgency of the event
F=frequency of the event

I tried to use the equation myself, but had a hard time putting up a quantity for things like importance and urgency.

Now why would the common person, mathematicians, and engineers find this law to be attractive?

One idea as to why we are appeased with Murphy's Law is fatalism, the idea that we are powerless to fate. This of course, ruins the existence of free will. It certainly sounds easier to blame something on a stronger force of nature, then to blame it on a mistake we made.

I found these laws to be pretty entertaining, which is the very purpose of them. They were not created to be blamed upon for negative events occurring in our lives, but rather finding humor in them.

If you are interested in seeing more of the laws, I've placed a link below to the main site which gives more laws than you could imagine, all divided into different categories.

Author's Note: Sources: http://people.howstuffworks.com/murphys-law.htm


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