Murphy's Laws

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We laugh when we stumble across one of Mr. Murphy's laws because these short maxims describe so poignantly the fickleness of fate which confounds all of us in our earthly endeavors.

Most people do not realize that Murphy's Laws are actually the manifestation of events triggered by what is probably the most fundamental of all of the Laws of Nature: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, also known as Entropy.

The First Law of Thermodynamics provides for the preservation of energy under all circumstances: A given quantity of energy can be endlessly converted, recycled and diluted, but it will never cease to exist. Pretty simple and makes sense? Of course.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics stipulates that energy in a closed system always flows from a state of higher concentration to a state of lower concentration   ---   from orderliness to randomness. This law is a little more complex because it decrees that (in a closed system): Water always runs downhill, time moves only in one direction and cannot be reversed, a cup of coffee will get cooler if left alone but will never get hotter by itself, buildings will slowly decay and must inevitably collapse unless repaired, the universe must ultimately run out of usable energy and will die without even a whimper. Talk about an all-pervasive law!

Entropy ceaselessly and surreptitiously undermines all of our efforts when we try to create order in this world by building bridges, houses, storing food, building wealth  ---  you name it, and we have to fight entropy every step of the way. Bridges do not assemble themselves out of steel girders, they require energy from an outside source to be constructed and they require more energy to maintain them and thus prevent their otherwise inevitable collapse. Is a great deal easier to spend our money (an act of increasing the randomness of our money) than to build a fortune (an act of increasing orderliness). Entropy is the invisible force behind  Murphy's Laws: Anything that can go wrong, not only will it go wrong, it must go wrong, as decreed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The etymology of Murphy's Laws is not well established, at least I have not been able to find any factual or credible references to their origin. The postulation of the Law is attributed to one Capt. Ed Murphy who was a development engineer for the Wright Field Aircraft Lab. He referred to a technician who had allegedly induced a malfunctioning, when he exclaimed in frustration: "If there is any way to do it wrong, he will"

Here are a few samples of what Mr. Murphy has wrought. They made me laugh because their truth is so self evident.



The Basic Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong


Corollaries and Derivatives:


Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and at the worst possible moment.


Everything takes longer than you think.


Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.


Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it only makes it worse.


Everything put together falls apart sooner or later.


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


Any wire cut to length will be too short.


After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.


Any error in any calculation will be in the direction of the most harm.


No books are lost by lending except those you particularly wanted to keep.


If you throw anything away, you will need it as soon as it is no longer available.


When the plane you are on is late, your connecting flight is on time.


Toothaches tend to start on Friday night.


The other check-out line always moves faster  -- and immediately slows down after you change lines.


Any given computer program will expand to fill all available memory.


Computers are unreliable but humans are even more unreliable.


The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.


Enough research will tend to support any theory.


If enough data is collected, anything may be proven by statistical methods.


In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.   ---   Work is accomplished by those who have not as yet reached their level of incompetence.


The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can blame it on.


Nothing is impossible for the man who does not have to do it himself.


Anything good in life is either illegal, immoral or fattening.


The three faithful things in life are money, a dog, and an old woman.


Don't worry about being rich or not, as long as you live comfortably and have everything you want.


No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.


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