Aug 5, 2005

Murphy's Law and the Universe

It is the simplest thing that you can learn from the Universe through that now-extinct skill of observation. It is known as Murphy's Law.

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." This is the most common version of this famous law and it is credited to Major Edward A. Murphy, Jr., a development engineer working for a brief time on rocket sled experiments done by the United States Air Force in 1949. (Courtesy: Wikipedia). He is said to have said this when frustrated with the repeated failures of experiments for testing the human tolerance for G-forces during rapid deceleration.

Some may call this a pessimistic way of looking at things (in fact, one of my close friends does!), and rightly so. But have you ever wondered why it rains the hardest on the only day you forgot to take your umbrella? Or that you get caught in the busiest traffic on the very day your boss's boss is visiting the office? Or why the other line always moves faster, when you are getting the ticket?

Now this is what happened today that made me write all these things about the Law. I normally put my mobile phone on silent mode, with the vibrator turned on, when I am at work. So, today morning, before leaving from home, I put it on the silent mode and at that moment, my mom asked me to get something from the basement. I put down my phone on the edge of the nearest table and went to get the thing. At that precise moment, my friend called me, and the phone's vibrator turned on and propelled itself from the table onto the floor. Thankfully, the Nokia guys have made it so well that it has survived many a fall before this, and it came through this one without any problems either. Now, consider this. My friend could have called me any time in the morning and he chose to call me in the 20 second time-frame when I put my phone in silent mode, at the edge of the table, just before I was to put it into my pocket.

There are a few interesting sites out there specialising in the Law and here is one good site.

Murphy's Laws (with variants)

So the next time you are caught in the rain or waiting in a long queue, remember Murphy's Law. (And by the way, knowing the Law beforehand doesn't put you in a position to change the outcome. - Murphy's Law Variant no. 377 )

P.S: What if Murphy's Law was applied on itself? :)