According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Learn about the origins of this theory, and its application in science, computers and Big Data…
Are you familiar with Murphy’s Law? According to this particularly pessimistic theory, “ anything that’s likely to go wrong will go wrong. “.
In other words… this rule leaves little room for hope…. However, it is important to clarify that this law of nature is not dictated by a mysterious and invisible force.
Murphy’s Law and Human Pessimism
Actually, it’s a reflection of our own perception…. When everything’s going well, we don’t really ask questions. On the other hand, when everything goes wrong, the human brain tends to look for explanations.
For example, if you walk to the supermarket and eventually arrive at your destination, you will consider this normal. On the other hand, if you make a complete mistake and stumble on the road as a bonus, you’re probably wondering what causes of this bitter failure.
So, Murphy’s Law actually reflects human fatalism…. However, it can also be seen as the result of a collision between this fatalism and another concept: that of free will.
Of course, most of the time, if humans can make a mistake, they will. However.., this is a result of his own choices.
Who invented Murphy’s Law?
Murphy’s Law takes its name from Captain Edward A. Murphy Jr., engineer in the US Air Force. of the United States who died in 1990. In 1949, at Edwards Air Force Base in California, officers were conducting tests as part of Project MX981.
The purpose of this project was to determine how many “Gs” (the force of gravity) the human can handle it. Their ambitions were to use the findings of this study for the design of future aircraft.
For simulate the force of a plane crashThe team used a rocket sled nicknamed the “Gee Whiz”. This sled could travel over 200 miles per hour on a half mile circuit, and brake hard in less than a second.
However, to determine how much force a person could endure, he was necessary for a person to actually get on the sled. This role was assigned to Colonel John Paul Stapp, a physicist in the Air Force.
During these trials, the scientist had many broken bones, concussions and ruptures of the blood vessels in his eyes. During one of these tests, Captain Murphy brought sensors to hook into the harness that held Dr. Stapp in the sled.
These sensors were used to measure the “G-force” applied when the sled braked hard, in order to collect more accurate data. Unfortunately, the sensors were improperly connected and recorded a force of zero.
There were two possible ways to connect each sensor, and each was installed the wrong way. Then Captain Murphy, blaming the technician, said: ” if there are two ways to do one thing, and one of those ways is a disaster, he will do it this way. “.
With humor, Dr. Stapp emphasized the universality of what Murphy had just said…. At a press conference, he stated that his safety during the tests had been assured by his knowledge of “Murphy’s Law”: “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.
Murphy’s Law was first relayed by publications dedicated to aeronautics, then took its place in popular culture. Since then, it gradually became a universal law…
Murphy’s Law as a scientific and mathematical tool
Murphy’s Law is not just a good excuse for his mistakes and missteps. It can also be used as a tool.
Biological engineer Joel Pel, University of British Columbia, created a formula for predicting the occurrence of Murphy’s Law… and the chances of things going wrong.
Its formula uses a constant equal to 1, an inconstant factorand several variables. In this formula, Pel uses the importance of the event (I), the complexity of the system involved (C), the urgency of the need for the system to operate (U), and the frequency with which the system is used (F).
In an essay published in Science Creative Quarterly, Pel illustrates his theory with an example. A motorist has to drive his Toyota Tercel about 60 miles to his home in the middle of a storm without the clutch breaking.
In using his “Murphy’s equation”If the clutch on the Tercel will fail during this storm, Pel gets a response of 1, which means that the Tercel clutch will fail during this storm. The formula therefore mathematically confirms the fear that all Toyota Tercel owners have.
Murphy’s Law thus reminds engineers, computer programmers and scientists that that systems can fail. In some cases, the failure of a system means that the experiment must be repeated. In others, the consequences of failure may be more costly.
That is why it is important to parry failure protection systems. Some systems use limited choices to reduce their error rate, while others have mechanisms to prevent problems from getting worse. For example, if you let go of the handles on your lawnmower, it will automatically stop.
Murphy’s Law in Computer Science
In the field of computer science, Murphy’s Law is commonly applied to software or hardware testing and other types of engineering. It suggests, for example, that during a test performed hundreds of times, the test equipment will failIf the testers fail to follow the procedure, and other errors and unexpected problems will occur based on their overall probability.
Interactions with technology are often marked by many problems, whether related to equipment or human errors, and Murphy’s Law is a method for anticipating this wide variety of problems potential.