Murphy’s Law

Edward Aloysius Murphy Jr. was an American aerospace engineer who worked on safety-critical systems. He once said “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in a disaster, then somebody will do it that way” working at Wright-Patterson Air-force base in late 1940’s, which later was popularized as Murphy’s law. He spent his life working to increase reliability and safety to prevent human error. Overall, it is statement of caution, to prepare yourself for the worst, when the best is expected.

Strangely enough, I noticed that people from both lazy-pessimistic and active-optimistic lifestyles use this quote in their own way. “What has to go wrong will go wrong anyways! Why care about it?” and “If there is something that will go wrong, we need to account for it and at least understand it!” are the most extreme thought examples to support my theory. To the core of its strangeness, human society has remained tolerant of some weird thoughts, but more importantly extremely silent about them as well. The society reveals what it shows, but believes what it does not. So, Murphy’s law might be unknown to some of you, because it is just a saying with no proof, but since the bigger chunk of population is stuck with the 9-5 grind, so Murphy’s law is synonymous with unknown glitches with any kind of work. Ultimately, quoting Murphy’s Law becomes the verbal hunter of all the nervous feelings of unknown failure to shove them deep inside and never to reveal. It makes us believe that the universe a.k.a. nature is out there to get us, so we should not fuss over something that was out of our control and try to learn from it. When I stumbled upon a cool proof recently, I had to write about it.

The most common story capturing Murphy’s subtle rant is of the tumbling of a toast with butter on one side that tumbles down to the floor. It is believed that it always falls butter side down. The toast when tumbles, somehow always falls in the worst condition possible. Robert A J Matthews, who was a visiting professor at Aston University in Birmingham U.K., in 1995, wrote a paper on the proof that the tumbling toast does fall butter down every time. He did this by proving that the dynamics of the toast with butter on one side while it is falling from the table always make it fall butter down. Robert Matthews now works as a consultant in Science and Media across the whole world.

Interestingly, he further goes on to prove in this paper that nature’s or universe’s fundamental constants (like height of an average table from where the toast can tumble which is dependent of average human height) are somehow helping the toast to fall butter down and proving the ‘innate cussedness of the universe’. But the important take away is that as humans, we are supposed to be intelligent enough to not to keep cursing the Universe and find a solution to the problem.

This is for everyone who thinks that the world out there is to get you. This paper, if extrapolated to other human situations, might prove that the world is really out there to get you! But, as humans, we like to stay on top of our life. Ultimately this tussle with the fundamental universe’s constants becomes life! or one may preach ‘ignorance is bliss’ and let the toast fall butter down with not a care! To each his own!

P.S. Nietzsche, a German Philosopher, believed that Struggle is the essence of life. If you are not struggling with something, then you are either on a break, or doing something wrong.

www.aston.academia.edu/RobertMatthews

Tumbling Toast Proof

 

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