The other line always moves faster!


There is an old saying “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, there are no laws of physics or theory associated with this, still it is better known as Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s law came from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, Ohio in the mid-1950s. A technician named Edgar Murphy was working on a set of complex instrumentation for a new airplane. This instrumentation included connections to a large number of temperature sensors, all of which had to be connected in the correct orientation. After he had worked with great effort for a long time making all the connections he tested his apparatus, and found, to his horror that all the connections were backwards. Whereupon, he uttered those inimitable words: “Anything that can go wrong, will!”

Though there is no logical or scientific explanation for this law and neither anyone has proven or disprove it, yet it seems ever pervasive!!!, and impacts us everyday, it has been playing some devious role in determining the outcomes of myriad events in our lives, nature also seems to always side with this hidden flaw. Almost all of us have gone through the situations when we realize, “Oh!! i Knew this would happen to me” or have faced bigger problems or issues just before a deadline, rather critical issues always have a tendency to crop up out just at the last minute.

Let us see how this law subtly manifests itself in various areas

IT and Software:- Though the list is very long, in the interest of time only few have been listed below

  • The day you will forget to save critical files on the your PC, it will crash!!
  • There is always one more bug!!!!! (that’s why it is said, Software and cathedrals are much the same – first we build them, then we pray!!!!)  Sam Redwine [Proceedings of the 4th International Software Process Workshop, Moretonhampstead, Devon, U.K., 11–13 May 1988, IEEE Computer Society]
  • There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works. [Alan Perlis, "Epigrams on Programming"]
  • Applications have a tendency to go down when you are in middle an issue which got escalated till CXO in the morning and are expected to slog entire night in order to fix it……

Cars and Traffic

  • The later you are running, the greater the chance of hitting every red light in your path
  • If you’re stuck in a traffic jam and you move to the fast lane, it will become the slowest
  • A flat will occur when you are without a spare (this is highly likely to occur when the person who reminded you weeks ago, is sitting next to you)
  • The probability of being involved in an accident is very high, at the exact moment that your car insurance lapses


  • The network would snap just when you were explaining an important point over a conference call….
  • Boss will always pop up out of no where when you are doing online shopping in office!!!
  • An expert is someone, who is always brought in at the last minute!!! (to share the blame :-) )


  • Slipped toasts will always fell with Jelly or Jam side down. Common sense from probability theory tells us that, either side, with Jelly or without Jelly is equally likely. However, its the price of the carpet which determines the outcome! and Probability of Jelly spoiling the carpet is always 1
  • Water taps will run dry only when guests are expected at home
  • A rare power cut will happen only when you have decided to work from home
  • Most of the times, small kids would want to go to toilet, only when their moms have just started to have food!!!!

Thus there are a lot of incidents around us everyday, which seem to affirm that Murphy’s Law is an integral part of our lives. There is another school of thought which believes that Murphy’s Law can be explained by Second Law of thermodynamics. It states that, a system when left isolated, tends to become more disordered. Essentially, there is one ideal outcome of any action we might take, but there are many ways in which the outcome could be less than ideal, some disastrously so. It is not surprising that things do not turn up the way we expect. Till now there is no reasonable explanation for this law in classical physics, whether Principles of Quantum Physics will be able to exorcise the ghost of Murphy’s Law is yet to be seen.

One Response to The other line always moves faster!

  1. Hi Anu,

    Most of the situations actually made me smile, knowing that i have been a victim of some of them.

    Maybe its all just random. can’t say. but the very fact that murphy’s law has survived more than 6 decades is a testimony of how many people have actually felt it to be trueat some point or the other.

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