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The origin of Murphy’s Law

Everyone knows Murphys Law and many have experienced it in their lifetime. The ‘law’ simply put, states, that anything that can go wrong in a given situation, will go wrong. If you drop a piece of food, it will inevitably roll under the fridge. If you find the perfect pair of shoes, they won’t fit. If you cover your hands in oil, your nose will get an itch. These are just a few examples of the law that has frustrated man forever. But when and how was it created?

When it was created, we are not sure. At some point, the universe decided to punish us all for being alive and has been laughing at us ever since. The law got its name though, in 1945. 

Edwards Air Force base was a test center for pilot ejections. At the time planes were getting faster and any pilot who was ejecting during a crash was dying. The question was raised, could the human body survive flying at 18Gs and suddenly stopping. Most believed it couldn’t be done but one man disagreed. That man was Dr. Stapp who created a contraption to test the G force on pilots. 

While their experiments were ongoing Edward Murphy had a machine that could measure G force. Dr. Stapp asked for his assistance and Murphy promptly sent him the machine with instructions. Dr. Stapp would secure himself in the chair and be the test subject. It would be an incredibly dangerous exercise and also incredibly expensive. The group was also short on time as Murphy needed the equipment back soon. It needed to go right. Of course, it went wrong. 

The experiment failed to register any G force because the equipment was set up wrong. Upon hearing this result, Murphy now famously said, with my assistant, anything that can go wrong, will. Dr. Stapp thought it was a good way to approach any experiment and said from now on they operated under Murphy’s law. They would undergo every experiment with redundancy for everything in place so that anything that failed was covered.

The experiments that Dr. Stapp conducted were incredibly dangerous and when asked by media why no one had ever died. He stated that it was because they followed the principle of Murphy’s Law. The Law was now out in the world, forevermore.

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