“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
After yesterday’s rant I though it was time for something a little less intense today. So in this post I am going to talk a bit about the Fourth Law Of Thermodynamics.
Say what??? Don’t worry, if you have read any of my previous posts you will already be familiar with this Law as I have highlighted many examples.
The Fourth Law Of Thermodynamics is a derivative of Murphy’s Law, and can be defined as follows:
“If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, especially under pressure.”
The original Murphy’s Law actually reads:
“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 that way.”
Although it sounds Irish, Murphy’s law seems to have originated with a Captain Edward A. Murphy, who was an American engineer at Muroc, California (later named Edwards Air Force Base). In 1949 he was working on a rocket sled project to test the tolerances of the human body to acceleration and sudden braking. The machinery kept failing mainly due to human error. For example in one experiment that involved a set of sixteen accelerometers mounted on different parts of a subject’s body. There were only two ways the sensors could be mounted and Murphy found that someone had methodically glued all sixteen in place the wrong way. Exasperated by the stupid technician, Murphy said, ‘If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.’
Air Force Flight Surgeon, John Paul Stapp, picked up on Murphy’s phrase and used at a press conference. After that it was adopted first by others within the aerospace industry, but gradually became a popular everyday saying.
As with any good idea, Murphy’s Law evolved to fit various scenarios.
For example, the 1st Amendment states that,
“If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.”
The 2nd Amendment,
“If you realize that there are three possible ways in which something can go wrong, and cover them all, then a fourth, unprepared for way, will miraculously appear out of thin air.”
The 3rd Amendment,
“When something breaks, the parts damaged are in direct proportion to their value.”
And the 4th Amendment,
“The failure does not appear until the machinery has passed its final inspection.”
Despite whatever else you may think it is quite remarkable just how often one variant or the other of Murphy’s Law holds up, especially when you add an idiot or two to the mix.
Finally there are what have been called the “Lesser Known Murphy’s Laws” which include things like,
“Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”
“He who laughs last, thinks slowest.”
“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”
“Those who live by the sword, get shot by those who don’t.”
“Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.”
“The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.”
“If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, five or six at a time, on a hill, in the fog.”
“If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.”
“The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first.”
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day, drinking beer.”
“Flashlight: A metal tube used to store dead batteries.”
“The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.”
“A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.”