Murphy's Law

The original Murphy's Law was "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." The law's author was Edward A. Murphy, Jr., a U.S. Air Force engineer, who, in 1947, was involved in a rocket-sled experiment in which all 16 accelerator instruments were installed in the wrong way, resulting in Murphy's observation. Murphy's Law is sometimes expressed as "Anything that can go wrong, will -- at the worst possible moment." In that format, the Law was popularized by science-fiction writer Larry Niven as "Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives " (sometimes known as "Finagle's corollary to Murphy's Law").

Extrapolating from the original, we arrive at Murphy's Laws of Information Technology, a set of principles that may seem to be jokes but which events sometimes prove to be fundamental truths.

Here are a few examples of Murphy's Laws relative to hardware.

Here are a few greatly simplified examples of Murphy's Laws as they relate to programming.

As you gain experience, you'll discover, and learn to live with, most aspects of Murphy's Laws. It's best that way. If neophytes were fully aware of all the things that could go wrong, they might avoid technology careers altogether. Then they'd miss out on all the benefits, and all the fun, that technology has to offer.

20 Jun 2011

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