Index | Comments and Contributions | previous:9.5 The Nerd test and other tests.

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                         MURPHY'S LAWS

THE PRIME AXIOM: In any field of scientific endeavor, anything that
                     can go wrong, will.

 2.  If the possibility exists of several things going wrong, the one that
      will go wrong is the one that will do the most damage.
 3.  Everything will go wrong at one time.
      3.1 That time is always when you least expect it.
 4.  If nothing can go wrong, something will.
 5.  Nothing is as easy as it looks.
 6.  Everything takes longer than you think.
 7.  Left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.
 8.  Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
 9.  Given the most inappropriate time for something to go wrong, that's
      when it will occur.
 10.  Mother Nature is a bitch.
      10.1 The universe is not indifferent to intelligence, it is actively
            hostile to it.
 11.  If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked
 12.  If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work,
      the answer can be obtained by simple inspection.
 13.  Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to
      make it complex and wonderful.
 14.  If it doesn't fit, use a bigger hammer.
 15.  In an instrument or device characterized by a number of plus-or-minus
      errors, the total error will be the sum of all the errors adding in
      the same direction.
 16.  In any given calculation, the fault will never be placed if more than
      one person is involved.
      16.1 In any given discovery, the credit will never be properly placed
            if more than one person is involved.
 17.  All warranty and guarantee clauses become invalid upon payment of the
      final invoice.
 18.  Murphy's Law: "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."

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From: Freek <frbrysse#NoSpam.vub.ac.be>
 "Proof of Murphy's Law: Murphy's Law cannot be proven, yet is correct, as
when you try to prove Murphy's Law, you will see that the proof is
incorrect. This is obviously due to Murphy's Law, therefore Murphy's Law is
correct and proven."

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From: robertgwirth#NoSpam.usfamily.net

Murphy's Law is self-proving because:
1.  Murphy's Law states: "If anything can go wrong, it will."
2.  If Murphy's Law, "If anything can go wrong, it will," is true, then Murphy's law itself can go wrong.
3.  If Murphy's law can go wrong, then things can sometimes go right.
4.  Things do sometimes go right, as proved by experience.
5.  Therefore, Murphy's Law can go wrong.
6.  Therefore Murphy's Law, "If anything can go wrong, it will," is true.
7.  Therefore Murphy's Law is self-proving.
Q. E. D. 

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From: Brian G. Thomas <bgthomas#NoSpam.uiuc.edu>

Corollary to Murphy's Law (paraphrased):

If it can be shown that something that could have gone wrong did not go
wrong, then subsequent events will prove that everything would ultimately
have turned out better if that thing had gone wrong. 

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From: "David van Duijne" <duinen#NoSpam.quicknet.nl>
 Murphy's Mother's Law: "My son was right..."

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                     GLASSER'S COROLLARY

     If, of the seven hours you spend at work, six hours and fifty-five
     minutes are spent working at your desk, and the rest of the time
     you throw the bull with your cubicle-mate, the time at which
     your supervisor will walk in and ask what you're doing can be
     determined to within five minutes.

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                      When it rains, it pours.

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                     JENKINSON'S LAW
                        It won't work.

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                   Murphy was an optimist.

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From: goble#NoSpam.infonaut.com (Clark Goble)
As soon as you make something

idiot-proof, along comes another idiot.
            -- Grave's Law

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                     LAWS RELATING TO DESIGN:
 1.  In any given price estimate, the cost of the equipment will exceed
      estimated expenditure by a factor of 3.
 2.  Dimensions will always be expressed in the least useable terms.  For
      example, velocity will be expressed in furlongs/fortnight.
 3.  If the breadbox trial model functions perfectly, the finished product
      will not percolate.
 4.  In a mathematical calculation, any error that can creep in, will.  It
      will be in the direction that will do the most damage to
      the calculation.
 5.  In any collection of data, the figures that are obviously correct,
      beyond all need of checking, contain the errors.
 6.  The probability of a dimension or value being omitted from a drawing
      is directly proportional to its importance.
 7.  In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.
 8.  Information necessitating a change in design will be conveyed to the
      designer after, and only after, the plans are complete.
 9.  In simple cases, presenting one obvious right way vs.  one obvious
      wrong way, it is often wiser to choose the wrong way so as to
      expedite subsequent revisions.
 10.  The more innocuous a modification appears to be, the further its
      influence will extend and the more plans will have to be redrawn.

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                     LAWS RELATING TO ASSEMBLY:

 1.  If a project requires n components, there will be n-1 components
 2.  Interchangeable parts won't.
 3.  Components that must not and cannot be assembled improperly will be.
 4.  The most delicate component will be dropped.
 5.  The construction and operation manual will be discarded with the
      packing material.  The garbage truck will have picked it up
      five minutes before the mad dash to the rubbish can.
 6.  The necessity of making a major design change increases as the
      assembly and wiring of the unit approach completion.
      A dropped tool will land where it will do the most damage.
 8.  A component selected at random from a group having a 99% reliability
      will be a member of the 1% group.
 9.  Tolerances will accumulate unidirectionally toward maximum difficulty
      of assembly.
 10.  The availability of a component is inversely proportional to the need
      for that component.
 11.  If a particular resistance is needed, that value will not be
      Furthermore, it cannot be developed with any series or parallel
 12.  After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be
      on the bench.

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 1.  Any wire cut to length will be too short.
 2.  Milliampermeters will be connected across the power source, voltmeters
      in series with it.
 3.  The probability of an error in the schematic is directly proportional
      to the trouble it can cause.
 4.  Identical units tested under identical conditions will not be
      on the final test after being buried under other components and
 5.  A self starting oscillator won't.
 6.  A crystal oscillator will oscillate at the wrong frequency -- if it
      oscillates at all.
 7.  A p-n-p transistor will be found to be an n-p-n.
 8.  A fail-safe circuit will destroy others.
 9.  If a circuit cannot fail, it will.
 10.  A transistor protected by a fast-acting fuse will protect the fuse by
      blowing first.
 11.  Probability of failure of a component is inversely proportional to
      ease of repair or replacement.
      Some idiot has left open the number two impulse vent.(Check the
      position of all switches, knobs, and dials before turning on a piece
      of equipment. Both you and the equipment will live longer.)

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 1. After the 24th cabinet-to-chassis screw has been removed to replace the
    under chassis fuse, it will be observed that the line cord plug has
    become disengaged from the a.c. receptacle.
 2. After the 24th cabinet-to-chassis screw has been replaced, the driver
     tube will be found under the schematic on the bench.
 3. The bleeder resistor will quit discharging the filter capacitors as the
    operator reaches into the power supply enclosure.

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                       ALLEN'S AXIOM
               When all else fails, read the directions.

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                     GUNNERSEN'S LAW 
The probability of a given event is inversely proportional to its

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                     MESKIMEN'S LAW
     There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

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

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                     LORD FALKLAND'S RULE
When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a

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                     GUMMIDGE'S LAW
   The amount of expertise varies in inverse proportion to the number of
   statements understood by the general public.

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                     SATTINGER'S LAW
              It works better if you plug it in.

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You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to

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Special Category: Old scientists never die...
  Once you open a can of worms, the only way you can recan them is to use a
  larger can.  (Old worms never die; they just worm their way into larger

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                     OSBORN'S LAW
             Variables won't, constants aren't.

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                     THE SNAFU EQUATIONS
1.  Given any problem containing N equations, there will be N+1 unknowns.
2.  The object or bit of information most needed will be least available.
3.  The device requiring service or adjustment will be least accessible.
4.  In any human endeavor, once you have exhausted all possibilities and
     failed, there will be one solution, simple, obvious, and highly
     visible to everyone else.
5.  Badness comes in waves.

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1) Hofstadter's Law: "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you
   take Hofstadter's Law into account."

2) Morton's Law: "If rats are experimented upon, they will develop cancer."

3) Epstein's Axiom: "With extremely few exceptions, nothing is worth
        the trouble."

4) Mathis' Rule: "It is bad luck to be superstitious."

5) Laura's Law: "No child throws up in the bathroom."

6) "If there is a opinion, facts will be found to support it."
                        -- Judy Sproles.

7) "Rich folks get more strokes."  -- Greg Beil.

8) "If A = B and B = C, then A = C except where void or prohibited by law".
                        -- Roy Santoro.

9) Preudhomme's Law of Window Cleaning: "It's on the other side."
                        -- Doug Preudhomme

10) "Anything that happens enough times to irritate you will happen at
        least once more."  -- Tom Parkins

11) Slick's Three Laws of the Universe: "(1) Nothing in the known universe
        travels faster than a bad check.  (2) A quarter-ounce of
        chocolate = four pounds of fat.  (3) There are two types of dirt:
        the dark kind, which is attracted to light objects, and the light
        kind, which is attracted to dark objects."
                                -- Ely Slick

12) The two laws of Frisbee: "(1) The most powerful force in the world is
        that of a disc straining to land under a car, just out of reach
        (this force is technically termed 'car suck'); (2) Never precede
        any maneuver by a comment more predictive than 'Watch this!'"

13) (Sam) Goldwyn's Law: "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's
        printed on."

14)(Murray) Gell-Mann's Law: "Whatever isn't forbidden is required; thus,
if there's no reason why something shouldn't exist, then it must exist."

15) (Mark) Twain's Rule: "Only kings, editors, and people with tapeworms
        have the right to use the editorial 'we'."

16) "Bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. Bodies at rest tend to
        remain in bed."  -- Dave Tewksbury

17) Hurewitz's Memory Principle: "The chance of forgetting something is
        directly proportional to....to....."
                                -- Lane Hurewitz

18) Corry's Law: "Paper is always strongest at the perforations."
                                -- Carolyn M. Corry

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From: joeshmoe#NoSpam.world.std.com (Jascha Franklin-Hodge) (List of Taglines)

Any wire cut to length will be too short.
1st rule of intelligent tinkering - save all the parts
If it's not going to plan, maybe there never was a plan.
If Murphy's Law can go wrong, it will.
Knowing Murphy's Law won't help either.
From: Ian Ellis <ian#NoSpam.iglou.com>
Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.

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From: "Ian C. Dengler" <cargan#NoSpam.delrio.com>

                  Murphy's Ten Laws for String Theorists:

(1) If you fix a mistake in a mathematical superstring calculation, another
one will show up somewhere else.

(2) If your results are based on the work of others, then one such work will
turn out to be wrong.

(3) The longer your article, the more likely your computer hard disk drive
will fail while you are typing the references.

(4) The better your research result, the more likely it will be rejected by
the referee of a journal; on the other hand, if your work is wrong but not
obviously so, it will be accepted for publication right away.

(5) If a result seems too good to be true, it is unless you are one of the
top ten string theorists in the world. (By the way, these theorists refer to
their results as "string miracles".)

(6) Your most startling string-theoretic theorem will turn out to be valid
in only two spatial dimensions or less.

(7) When giving a string seminar, nobody will follow anything you say after
the first minute, but, if miraculously someone does, then that person will
point out a flaw in your reasoning half-way through your talk and what will
be worse is that your grant review officer will happen to be in the

(8) For years, nobody will ever notice the fudge factors in your
calculations, but when you come up for tenure they will surface like fish
being tossed fresh breadcrumbs.

(9) If you are a graduate student working on string theory, then the field
will be dead by the time you get your Ph.D.; Even worse, if you start over
with a new thesis topic, the new field will also be dead by the time you get
your Ph.D.

(10) If you discover an interesting string model, then it will predict at
least one low-energy, observable particle not seen in Nature.

In summary, anything in string theory that theoretically can go wrong will
go wrong, but if nothing does go theoretically wrong, then experimentally it
is ruled out.

See explanation String Theory Jokes:
Physics 10: String theory is a unification model based on the idea that all
elementary particles are different vibrations of a microscopic string.
Concerning (6), string theories are formulated in various numbers of spatial
dimensions, of which nine is the most popular. Concerning (10), the phase
"low-energy, observable particle" means that current accelerators are
capable of producing and detecting it.

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From: "PAUL ROBERT VARLEY" <VAR14084#NoSpam.gorseinon.ac.uk>

Varley's Laws of Model Railway Operation (some rather specific cases of 

Zeroth Law: An engine will always derail at the least accessible part of
the line.

First Law: Engines have two operating speeds: Too Fast and Stop.

Second Law: You only discover the loose fishplate _after_ you nail the
track down.

Third Law: The likelihood of an object falling over is directly
proportional to the number of times you've had to stand it up again.

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From: "Steven Sweeney" <ssweeney#NoSpam.tspan.net>

A 900 dollar (name your component) will blow just in time to save a 10 cent

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From: N़stor Carrizosa <ncarrizosa#NoSpam.prodigy.net.mx>

When you have a mess in your home; it is for sure you will have a
unannounced visit of your parents

N़stor Carrizosa

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From: "Michael A. Covington" <Michael#NoSpam.CovingtonInnovations.com>

Covington's Corollary to Murphy's Law
(formulated 1974, not posted on the net until now)

The particular corollary, instance, or theorem of Murphy's Law most
applicable to the situation at hand is the one you can't remember.

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From : tomas_thefox2003#NoSpam.yahoo.ie (Tomas Fuchsbauer)

Here is my personal observation of World Events : Everything (tangible and
intangible) in the Universe can be explained through using a form of
Murphys Laws.

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Special Category: Why the chicken crossed the road according to scientists
From: Stan Kegel <kegel#NoSpam.fea.net>
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Murphy: The chicken will invariably cross the road at the worst possible
time and the worst possible place.

(2) The chicken had a bad day.

(3) The more the chicken wants to cross the road the more likely traffic
gets heavier.

(4) When the chicken finally gives it up traffic stops instantaneously.

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From: "I.N. Galidakis" <jgal#NoSpam.ath.forthnet.gr>

"The moment you think it's x, it changes to not x"

"The best way to predict reality, is to know exactly what you DON'T want"

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From: J.P. Ward <jettyward#NoSpam.hotmail.com>

It always struck me that the saddest corollary of all was: 

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