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One day, Edward Murphy, an engineer working on a project at Edwards Air Force Base, found that one of his junior technicians made a technical error and made a sarcastic comment, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he will find it.” Another engineer, Dr. John Paul Stapp, who was also involved with the project, noted this universality of errors and formulated a law, which he called “Murphy’s Law.”
Murphy’s Law is the name given to any adage stating that if anything can go wrong, it will. The principle is that if it is possible for something to go wrong, it will go wrong. This reveals the universal nature of incompetence that results in bad outcomes. The lesson to learn from this is that instead of looking at this adage with a pessimistic view, think of it as a word of caution. Don’t overlook quality control and don’t accept mediocrity, because a small slip is enough to cause an unfortunate outcome.
Murphy’s Law and its variations have drawn the attention of many and they are really interesting too. Have you ever come across an instance when your most valuable items were irreversibly damaged, while things you don’t care about much last forever? Do you ever believe in a better tomorrow? According to this variation, you can never be sure whether your tomorrow will be better than today and so try to make the maximum of today. Though there is a touch of pessimism here, this law teaches us to appreciate what we have, instead of focusing on what we will have in the future.
Another variation of Murphy’s Law goes like this: “The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time; the last 10% takes the other 90% of the time.” This is a humorous take on those projects that exceeds the deadline. Project time can’t be allocated in mathematical proportions. Time expands to fill the space, and contracts when you need it most. This is similar to Parkinson’s Law, which states: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” However, according to Murphy’s Law, work expands beyond the allocated time.
Different variations of Murphy’s Law have been around for many years and known by different names, including Sod’s Law, Finagle’s Law, the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics, Newton’s Fourth Law of Motion, and the Inverse Midas Touch. Though many of them were in use long before, Murphy’s Law remains popular, because we tend to focus on negative events and look for reasons when things go badly. In other words, we normally ignore things that go right.
Murphy’s Law has the opposite too. It is Yhprum’s Law. The simple formula of Yhprum’s law is: “Everything that can work, will work.” “Yhprum” is “Murphy” spelled in reverse.