"If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it." -Edward A. Murphy, Jr. (1918-1990)

Captain Edward Murphy was one of the engineers involved in the experiments conducted by the U.S. Air Force in 1949 to test human acceleration tolerances (USAF project MX981).  One experiment involved a set of 16 sensors mounted to various parts of the subject's body.

In an interview, another engineer who was present stated that Murphy blamed the incorrect placement of the sensors and subsequent failure of the experiment on his assistant, saying, "If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will."  The original form of Murphy's pronouncement was quoted at a news conference a few days later by the test subject, Major John Paul Stapp.

Within months, "Murphy's Law" (often rephrased as "anything that can go wrong will go wrong") had spread to various technical cultures connected to aerospace engineering, and finally reached the Webster's dictionary in 1958.  Since then, the relentless truth inherent in Murphy's Law has become a persistent thorn in the side of humanity.

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For more information on Murphy's Law, see How Stuff Works.