Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) June 8, 2006
Murphy's Law -- "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" -- may be the most well-known aphorism known to man. Yet its origins are mysterious. Until recently, no one had ever dared ask the obvious questions, "Who was Murphy and why is there a Law named after him?"
Author Nick T. Spark set out in 2002 on a Quixotic quest to learn the true origins of the famous phrase. His search, documented in his new book "A History of Murphy's Law," which is now available on Amazon.com, will surprise you.
Murphy really did exist -- Edward A. Murphy, Jr. (1918-1990) was a reliability engineer who worked on several important U.S. Air Force projects during his career. His Law came into being while he assisted Dr. John Paul Stapp at Edwards Air Force Base in the late 1940's.
But the story does not end there. While conducting his research, Spark learned that controversy has raged for over fifty years regarding the meaning of the Law, and the role that Murphy played in creating it. To a certain extent, where the story of the origins of Murphy's Law is concerned, the Law is a victim of itself -- full of error and Murphyesque complications.
Ed Murphy claimed in various accounts that he himself coined the phrase after one of his assistants made an error. But according to George Nichols, the project manager for Dr. John P. Stapp, the Law was created by him after he witnessed Ed Murphy make a serious mistake. The story of exactly who was at fault, and who coined the phrase behind "Murphy's Law", will probably forever remain obscure, since key players are deceased.
Whatever its origins, most everyone agrees that Dr. John Paul Stapp played a critical role in popularizing Murphy's Law. Featured on the cover of Time magazine in the 1950’s, Stapp became known as the “Fastest Man on Earth” for his G-force experiments, which involved the use of rocket sleds. Millions of people owe their lives to Dr. Stapp, a famous researcher who helped develop restraint systems including automobile seatbelts.
According to Edward Murphy, he supplied Stapp with an instrument to help measure G-force on the rocket sled. After it failed during a test, Murphy blamed an underling for improperly wiring the device, stating that "If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will."
A short time later John Paul Stapp, known for his razor sharp wit, suggested that the phrase would be a good candidate for a 'Murphy's Law.'
Stapp later publicized the Law in a press conference. When asked how no one had been injured during the dangerous tests, he quipped that he and his support staff had a "healthy respect for Murphy's Law." The phrase went on to achieve cult status amongst reliability engineers. Eventually it struck a chord with the public-at-large and became ubiquitous.
Spark's book is the first to ever thoroughly probe the origins of this famous phrase, and features interviews with many prominent individuals involved in the story, including George Nichols and famed test pilot Gen. Chuck Yeager. The foreword is written by Marc Abrahams, editor of the famed magazine The Annals of Improbable Research, which presented Murphy with a posthumous "Ig Nobel" prize in 2003.
Author Nick Spark is a documentary filmmaker and writer who frequently contributes to aviation history magazines such as Wings and Airpower. Spark also developed a keen respect for one of the lessons the Law seems to impart: plan ahead to avoid disaster. While conducting his research and writing his manuscript, he routinely backed up his notes and computer files "just in case" Murphy's Law paid a visit.
For more information visit http://www.historyofmurphyslaw.com or Amazon.com
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