If ANYTHING can go wrong, it will

Murphy’s Law


Known from engineering circles as early as 1878, this law is the idea that anything that can go wrong generally does go wrong, sooner or later. The formulation as ‘law’ is said to have been made in 1949 by George Nichols, a manager of Northrop aerospace firm.

The law is hardly reassuring for human comfort. It means that if an aircraft part can be installed incorrectly, someone will eventually install it that way. The same applies to technology; if it can malfunction, it will. I dare to say that we are seeing Murphy’s Law live in the terror of aircraft disasters. Something is going wrong, and it isn’t the three laws of thermodynamics, it’s the so-called fourth – coined by A. Roe in 1953, Making of Scientist.

If ANYTHING can go wrong it will is more likely to be remembered as a proverb today, but, lest we forget, there are indeed severe implications. The modern world must rightly fear the dangers of new technology – it is man the engineer flying in the face of physics/Nature’s law.

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