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What do you know about Murphy’s Law?

by Aditi Rawat
0 comment 6 minutes read

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

You are sitting in your car waiting for the cars in your lane to move ahead. You are eager to reach home but to your disappointment, the cars in the lane next to yours start moving forward. You decide to switch lanes but now cars in every lane including the one you left, are moving except for the cars in your lane. Have you gone through this or a similar situation? Well, then you have experienced your share of the Murphy’s Law.

Murphy’s Law is not a mysterious power existing in nature. As weird as it may sound, it is us who give it relevance. What happens when you win a trophy or score brilliant marks or experience some other form of accomplishment? You obviously feel elevated. But what happens when things go wrong? You look for some reasons behind the incident or think why this had to happen to me.


Who first used the term Murphy’s Law is rather unclear but the law supposedly originates from a certain test that Captain Edward A.Murphy attempted as a fluke. He was an engineer in the US Air force and died in 1990.

A team of officers were experimenting to determine the maximum gravitational force that an individual can withstand so that their conclusions would be of help in building aircrafts. A rocket sled named “Gee Whiz” was used to deliver the force in an airplane crash. The catch was that an actual person was needed to ride the sled. After Colonel John Paul Stapp, who was subjected to injuries as a result of the experiment, Murphy attended one of the tests.

Col. John Paul Stapp aboard the “Gee Whiz” rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base.
Col. John Paul Stapp aboard the “Gee Whiz” rocket sled at Edwards Air Force Base.

Murphy was wearing a set of sensors. The sensors were to measure the gravitational force applied when the rocket sled came to a stop. One of the several stories as to what actually went down that day is as follows.

There were two ways as to how the wires of the sensors were to be connected. And as if almost jokingly, each wire was connected in the wrong manner. This discovery irritated Murphy which led him to say such lines, “If there are two ways to do something and one of those ways will result in disaster, he’ll do it that way“, he being the technician who was supposedly behind the blunder. In a press conference, Stapp jokingly mentioned that the reason behind the good safety record of the team was their seriousness towards Murphy’s Law; he said that it means “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong”. That was the start and after that Murphy’s Law was mentioned in numerous publications.

Some scientists do not entertain the idea of Murphy’s Law. Richard Dawkins, an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, says such laws require lifeless objects to have desires of their own or to behave in accordance with a person’s own desires. He concludes such laws to be nonsense. It is as if an investigator has already reached conclusions and is searching for evidence to prove his already formed conclusions. He does not pay heed to evidence that contradicts his assumptions.

There is an opposite law of Murphy’s Law called ‘Yhprum’s Law’ which is Murphy spelled backwards.


The classic science fiction INTERSTELLAR revolves around Murphy’s Law. In the movie, Murphy is the name of Joseph Cooper’s daughter. Joseph, played by Matthew McCoughnahey, is a NASA pilot who is part of the Interstellar expedition. A team of astronauts was to leave Earth in search of an inhabitable planet for mankind. There are dialogues such as Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here. There are events in the movie depicting hard choices despite the reluctance that people show. Joseph communicates with Murphy across three-dimensional space, across time and although he tries to stop his past self from leaving Murphy he still leaves her and ends up far away from her. All the events signify that even though the events which transpired were not something the characters wanted, they still happened nevertheless. Hence Murphy’s Law was always in action.

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