Monday, November 15, 2010

Murphy's Law

You all know about Murphy's Law right? 

It is that atavistic force that causes inanimate object to fail for no reason at the worst possible moment. 

If it can go wrong it will.

Well, not quite and, like many of these things if you drill a little deeper, the whole story is much more interesting as well as yielding some practical lessons.

It grew out of the experiences of a Colonel Stapp USAF, a pioneer in studying the effects of deceleration on humans. He was challenging the conventional wisdom that 20gs was fatal to the human body so there was no point in making the harnesses in fighter planes any stronger. Stapp begged to differ and in an heroic spirit of self experimentation put his own life where his mouth was.

After a SNAFU of the sort that any Technician or Engineer has seen many times, Stapp muttered something which eventually became Murphy's law.

To paraphrase:

If there is a way of buggering something up - eventually someone is going to do it. 
The corollary being ; If you can build that possible failure mode out or plan for it's contingency - not a bad idea to do so.

The bigger story makes for an engrossing read.

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