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Scientists Define Murphy's Law

CmdrTaco posted about 10 years ago | from the brillaint-or-pathetic dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 324

Jesrad writes "A mathematician, a psychologist and an economist commissioned by British Gas have finally put into mathematical terms what we all knew: that things don't just go wrong, they do so at the most annoying moment.The formula, ((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10)), indicates that to beat Murphy's Law (a.k.a. Sod's Law) you need to change one of the parameter: U for urgency, C for complexity, I for importance, S for skill, F for frequency and A for aggravation. Or in the researchers' own words: "If you haven't got the skill to do something important, leave it alone. If something is urgent or complex, find a simple way to do it. If something going wrong will particularly aggravate you, make certain you know how to do it." Don't you like it when maths back up common sense ?"

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Another famous proof (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486250)

Women are evil [wisc.edu] .

Now the next thing we need (0, Flamebait)

Hot Summer Nights (771962) | about 10 years ago | (#10486251)

is a scientific explanation why Linux sucks.

Re:Now the next thing we need (1)

TreeHead (553584) | about 10 years ago | (#10486267)

;if you're "S" was higher, you'd be able to tell us. ;treehead

yo yo im first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486254)

wow wow wee....yo yo yo....amaing...dawg...cuntface....

Er... (4, Insightful)

26199 (577806) | about 10 years ago | (#10486262)

Maths doesn't work like that. Writing something down as a formula doesn't automatically tell you something new or prove something.

It sounds like they're trying to describe how things can go wrong with a formula. That's nice, but it's just their opinion.

Re:Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486319)

Indeed, this is just an attempt to formalize some kind of self-help approach using Murphy's Law as a basis. Interesting, but not particularly rigorous.

Re:Er... (1, Funny)

nbvb (32836) | about 10 years ago | (#10486442)

<Carlin>
If you're looking for self help, why would you read a book written by somebody else?

That's not self help. That's help.

There's no such thing as self help. If you did it yourself, you didn't need help!
</Carlin>

Re:Er... (3, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 10 years ago | (#10486325)

Maths doesn't work like that. Writing something down as a formula doesn't automatically tell you something new or prove something.

It sounds like they're trying to describe how things can go wrong with a formula. That's nice, but it's just their opinion.


Christ, you must be a blast at parties.

You know that was a joke, right? Right?

Re:Er... (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | about 10 years ago | (#10486432)

You know that was a joke, right? Right?

did you read the article? after reading it, didn't seem much like a joke to me. /. just put it in the 'its funny, laugh' section.

Re:Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486456)

Er, because every post on slashdot should be measured by how people would react in a party situation.. right?

equals (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#10486347)

No, mathematics is exactly that: a description of the phenmoena. The "laws" we're always talking about are just reasonable expectations of consistent phenomena, phrased to exclude irrelevant factors and products, while describing the relationships between the phenomena actually involved. "The map is not the territory". Math is the map. Observations are facts, and formulae are strict, testable interpretations of patterns among facts. Opinions are based on beliefs and faith - so one can have an opinion about a fact, or a formula, but the formula itself is another form of idea: a theory, which is a testable statement about facts. The tests themselves often tell something new, and proofs are typically produced by analyzing the formula with other proven mathematics. That's how we can base our physics on Newton's _Principia Mathematica_, although his math is in an archaic language little resembling modern algebra or the calculus it spawned.

Re:equals (4, Funny)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | about 10 years ago | (#10486447)

I don't see how this particular formula is testable. How does one quantify urgency or aggravation in order to test the model? Methinks they left out the most important variable, B for Bullshit, measured in metric tons. ;)

Re:equals (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#10486511)

Urgency and aggravation are measured on their own relative scale, as percentages of unity (0.0->1.0). Urgency is asymptotic to the deadline, and aggravation is a combinatoric of other factors, possibly even keyed to the multidimensional gravity vector of the iotas of info. Schneidics postulates that just as space = gravity = matter = energy, so does energy = info. We're all describing schneidodynamics, detailing mechanisms that can be engineered into applications. Current mathematical tools are mostly targeting applications in grant engineering.

Re:equals (3, Funny)

dougmc (70836) | about 10 years ago | (#10486533)

possibly even keyed to the multidimensional gravity vector of the iotas of info.
Impressive. Now just re-route the plasma through the deflector dish and create a static warp field, and we can make things just like they were 50 minutes ago and wrap this episode up!

Re:equals (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | about 10 years ago | (#10486548)

Urgency and aggravation are measured on their own relative scale, as percentages of unity (0.0->1.0)

I realize that it's a joke. Sadly, in some journals this kind of stuff actually passes for research. Happiness and aggravation can't be measured with a ruler.

Current mathematical tools are mostly targeting applications in grant engineering.

Heh heh. True enough.

Re:equals (3, Insightful)

Esben (553245) | about 10 years ago | (#10486498)

You mix math with other sciences, like physics. Physics is indeed like what you descripe. Math isn't. Math is about starting from some simple axioms and prove all the rest with logic, not observations.

Re:equals (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#10486524)

Those axioms are observations. One important observation, one of two axioms underpinning all of math (and therefore science), is "consistency". The other is falsifiability, that only statements that can be proven false are scientific - the rest are metaphysical. Math such as "all triangles are composed of three interior angles totaling 180 degrees" is an observation, that is supported by theories and constructions. Physics applies math by interpreting the mathematical relationships in observed phenomena.

Re:equals (1)

Tony-A (29931) | about 10 years ago | (#10486553)

No, mathematics is exactly that: a description of the phenmoena. The "laws" we're always talking about are just reasonable expectations of consistent phenomena, phrased to exclude irrelevant factors and products, while describing the relationships between the phenomena actually involved.

And.
Making unwarranted and usually untrue assumptions about the nature of the relationship. Kinda like all hills have straight sides.

What is true is that mother nature sides with the hidden, and whatever and whenever causes stuff to be hidden increases the odds of mother nature biting you in a place you didn't know you had.

Re:Er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486362)

More like, if the scientist has 3 apples on his desk, and you steal 1 apple and throw it really hard on his forehead, does it prove your front door is unlocked when a burglar enter your house? This is slashdot, use analogies, n00bs!! LOL!!!1one11

Re:Er... (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 years ago | (#10486367)

Maths doesn't work like that. Writing something down as a formula doesn't automatically tell you something new or prove something.

Score = 0

Hundreds! (2, Funny)

lazybeam (162300) | about 10 years ago | (#10486377)

My friends love using quantifiers on values that can'be given a number:

"I have hundreds of luck. HUNDREDS!"

So, what are the units of urgency, complexity, importance, skill, frequency and aggravation? :)

Re:Hundreds! (4, Funny)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | about 10 years ago | (#10486395)

I'd say aggrivation could be measured in slashdots

Re:Hundreds! (2, Funny)

PGillingwater (72739) | about 10 years ago | (#10486445)

> My friends love using quantifiers on values that can'be given a number:

> "I have hundreds of luck. HUNDREDS!"

I'm sorry, that's only three funny.

If not mathematically then statistically.. (2, Informative)

xyz(void) (589270) | about 10 years ago | (#10486400)

Statistically it might be possible to describe this properly, if such a relationship did in fact exist. The problem here is that all the variables seem to be ordinal values and they give no instructions on how to convert them into cardinal values in terms of their function. That makes it also quite interesting how they got the constatants. On the other hand would every properly derived formula suggest that the implied relationship does not exist. Then again that seems quite boring.

Re:Er... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486402)

Sure it works that way. Here's another mathematical formula for you:

sense_of_humor(/. user 26199) = 0

Humor? (0, Redundant)

EvilCabbage (589836) | about 10 years ago | (#10486415)

Leave your sense of humor in your other pants today?

Re:Humor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486491)

i
You have:
slashdot cookie
no sense of humor

Re:Er... (4, Funny)

Coryoth (254751) | about 10 years ago | (#10486480)

The biggest dilemma is that this formula is just not testable. Clearly any test would be very Important and have to be carried out Frequently, and a test that covers all the situations to which Murphy's law might apply is clearly going to have to be Complex. So plugging all of that in, we see that, even if the formula is correct, all your attempts to verfiy it are doomed to failure!

Jedidiah.

Re:Er... (1)

noselasd (594905) | about 10 years ago | (#10486505)

That's what much of science *is*. Collect data, make a theory(often a model that can describe the data, and predict future data/results), test theory. ..
How much of that they've done, is somewhat hard to tell from the article, but _some_ it seems.

I liked this better the first time ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486263)

... when it was posted on Fark.com [fark.com] yesterday.

Doubt anyone can get Karma bonuses from reposting their comments here though. ;-)

I don't believe it! (5, Funny)

barcodez (580516) | about 10 years ago | (#10486266)

Jesrad writes "A mathematician, a psychologist and an economist commissioned by British Gas have finally put into mathematical terms what we all knew: that things don't just go wrong, they do so at the most anno.... 503 service unavailable

Re:I don't believe it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486387)

More like if you suprised a burglar trying to lock pick your front door and you tell him he's wasting his time cos your windows is open already. Use analogies, noobs!

No no no no no... they got it all wrong... (2, Insightful)

leav (797254) | about 10 years ago | (#10486269)

it's not "((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10))" ...

it's "((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(cos(F/10))".....

cmon guys... this is clearly BS..... it's like the formula for measuring happiness in currency.... pure BS...

-Leav

Re:No no no no no... they got it all wrong... (1)

jjhlk (678725) | about 10 years ago | (#10486331)

No it isn't... now try defining any of those variables! But really, a model can help you even if you don't define them, but since everybody knows it already it's probably completely useless.

Degrees/Radians or er... Gradians (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486420)

So what mode should the calculator be in for the sine bit?

Actually, by definition, this cannot be the forumla Murphy's law, because Murphy's law must have surely caused something to go wrong with the formula......

Re:No no no no no... they got it all wrong... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486461)

According to the article, it is indeed 1-sin(F/10).

If you were trying to use a trigonometric identity here, be aware that 1-(sin(x)^2) = cos(x)^2 is the correct one, not 1-sin(x) = cos(x),

Math pedants strike again!

Bullcrap (2, Interesting)

EpsCylonB (307640) | about 10 years ago | (#10486270)

this is psuedo science at best.

A scientific law should be provable by repetation. You can't know somehting will go wrong every time.

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486296)

You can assume something is going to go wrong every time, so you'll be prepared for the worst, and pleasantly surprised if everything goes as planned.

Re:Bullcrap (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486299)


this is psuedo science at best. A scientific law should be provable by repetation. You can't know somehting will go wrong every time.
Ahh, but what if the "something" was your spelling, and "going wrong every time" referred to at least one error per sentence? Could we prove it then?

Re:Bullcrap (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486303)

I believe they are calculating statistical possibilities, not tryning to find some yes/no answer for whether something will or will not go wrong.

Re:Bullcrap (2, Funny)

TheMeuge (645043) | about 10 years ago | (#10486326)

Now that we've written down Murphy's law, here's a bunch of other laws we can write down mathematically. I + B*E^ANS = 3SHI/TS LOG(T + A) = G/00.D/(L^A/Y) and for the final one Undescribable life bitching + mathematical formulas = Utter bullshit

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486375)

I + B*E^ANS = 3SHI/TS LOG(T + A) = G/00.D/(L^A/Y)
Ahh yes--for this I have been waiting my whole life! Finally--the elusive proof for the well-accepted theory that eating beans makes you shit a log then get laid! Bravo!

Re:Bullcrap (1)

sinclair44 (728189) | about 10 years ago | (#10486328)

Ever heard of quantum mechanics?

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486370)

Yes, can you prove it's true?

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486418)

No scientific theory can be proven true. That's orthogonal to the original point: just because your predictions aren't certain, doesn't make them pseudoscience. Quantum mechanics is one example.

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486386)

A scientific law should be provable by repetation.

So you should have no problem with the following formula:

average-IQ-of-Slashdot-user = 140 - 30*A

where A is the age of slashdot in number of years.

In case you still don't get it... it's not bullcrap, it's a fucking joke. You know, as indicated by the category "It's funny. Laugh"... Bah, why do I even try?

Re:Bullcrap (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 10 years ago | (#10486417)

Hell, they have the Monty Python "foot" attached to the story.

Besides, it doesn't prove that something will go wrong the next time used, it is used to give the probability. Often, you can't use math to prove something WILL go wrong in any particular instance, but you can at least provide the chances. If I flip a coin and declare that tails is "wrong", probability won't tell me which outcome I will get.

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486518)

You know, as indicated by the category "It's funny. Laugh"

Except that it's not funny --- Unless you think movies like American Pie are funny.

Re:Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486545)

You obviously didn't read the article. If you had, you would have seen that they modelled the probability of something going wrong at the worst possible moment.

Mod parent down.

Ugh (5, Funny)

mrjah (574093) | about 10 years ago | (#10486272)

Quick, somebody start arguing about probability!

ok, theyve mathematically defined murphys law. (0)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | about 10 years ago | (#10486277)

Now, when is biology gonna disect a gremlin?

Article Text (-1, Redundant)

dretay (583646) | about 10 years ago | (#10486280)

I know it looks like karma whoring, but i don't care


How you can break Murphy's Law
By Jennifer Sym
October 8, 2004

THERE'S grim news for people who worry that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. A new mathematical formula has proved Murphy's Law really does strike at the worst possible time. Ordinary people have long known that computers crash on deadline and cars break down in emergencies, while previous studies have shown the law, also called Sod's Law, is not a myth and toast really does fall buttered side down. But now a panel of experts has provided the statistical rule for predicting the law of "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong" - or ((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10)). After tests of the experiences of 1000 people, they have discovered "things don't just go wrong, they do so at the most annoying moment". Now the experts commissioned by British Gas - a psychologist, a mathematician and an economist - say the formula allows people to calculate the chances of Sod's Law striking, and even try to beat bad luck. Project psychologist Dr David Lewis said: "The lesson from this is that, to cut the seemingly unbeatable Murphy's Law gremlins down to size, you need to change one of the elements in the equation. "So, if you haven't got the skill to do something important, leave it alone. If something is urgent or complex, find a simple way to do it. If something going wrong will particularly aggravate you, make certain you know how to do it." But he added a note of caution: "There is, of course, a Sod's Law factor to the equation. If you judge your ratings wrongly, you might become too optimistic - and calamity will strike." In the calculation, five factors have to be assessed: urgency (U), complexity (C), importance (I), skill (S) and frequency (F), and each given a score between one and nine. A sixth, aggravation (A), was set at 0.7 by the experts after their poll. Top of the most likely - and most annoying - events was spilling something down yourself before a date and the hot water heater breaking down in cold weather, followed by rush hour being worse when you're already late. The Courier-Mail This report appears on NEWS.com.au.

Risk management application (1)

Alapan (600026) | about 10 years ago | (#10486284)

I guess this formula is perfect for risk managment. I mean you can now quantitavely tell your boss that the project is not worth it.

well, at least Cmdr. Taco isn't stupid... (3, Interesting)

leav (797254) | about 10 years ago | (#10486292)

"from the brillaint-or-pathetic dept."

he knows this is BS too...

-Leav

Re:well, at least Cmdr. Taco isn't stupid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486309)

if taco wants to see something pathetic then all he needs to do is drop trou and look in the mirror.

And to avoid damaging the galaxies (5, Insightful)

product byproduct (628318) | about 10 years ago | (#10486294)

Better avoid a frequency of exactly 5*Pi.

Re:And to avoid damaging the galaxies (1)

dykofone (787059) | about 10 years ago | (#10486368)

Good point. Looks like the phrase "when it rains, it pours" can be based on harmonic resonance.

Re:And to avoid damaging the galaxies (1)

ricotest (807136) | about 10 years ago | (#10486542)

Why?

m+u-s (1)

celeritas_2 (750289) | about 10 years ago | (#10486306)

math+uselessness=stupidity That formula means nothing to mathematics, it's just a stupid way to say something everybody already knows in English. You can't prove such a formula because it has to do with people(irritatingly inconsistant systems), not math(nicely consistant- 2+2 always = 5 ).

Oil prices so high... (1)

moofdaddy (570503) | about 10 years ago | (#10486316)

...commissioned by British Gas...

I guess this helps explain while oil prices are so high....

British Gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486352)

Ignorant yank.

British Gas 'supply' natural gas, not petroleum.

You're thinking of BP.

Re:Oil prices so high... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486369)

In Britain:

Gas = Gas. Y'know. The gassy stuff. The gas that's a gas and not a liquid. As in 'cooking on gas'.

Petrol = U.S. 'Gas'. Petroleum Distillate. It's a liquid, so we don't call it Gas for obvious reasons. - the most obvious being that it isn't one.

Ta muchly.

most annoying moment (5, Insightful)

kb9vcr (127764) | about 10 years ago | (#10486317)

"things don't just go wrong, they do so at the most annoying moment"

That's because, when things go wrong, it becomes the most annoying moment. My dishwaster just starting leaking all over the floor btw. Damn you murphy!

Fire up the laserjet! (4, Funny)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | about 10 years ago | (#10486329)

Bumper sticker for me!

((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10))

Yeah baby! Learn it, live it, love it!

Actually, this formula is my life story in a nutshell.....

There's nothing common... (0)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | about 10 years ago | (#10486333)

..about common sense.

IT'S A JOKE! (4, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 10 years ago | (#10486335)

Notice the foot? It's supposed to be a somewhat humorous little blurb about something silly.

What a fun crowd we've got around here on Sunday...

Re:IT'S A JOKE! (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | about 10 years ago | (#10486403)

Howzabout you suffer with my hangover, and then I'll laugh at the jokes.

Re:IT'S A JOKE! (1)

damiam (409504) | about 10 years ago | (#10486450)

Slashdot filed it as a joke, but the actual article seems to take it quite seriously.

OT, but mathmatical (1)

AbbyNormal (216235) | about 10 years ago | (#10486340)

Although this is slightly off-topic, I often wonder what the average energy draw of a Slashdotting would be on a particular website. I mean a webserver will only serve so many requests and the draw would be somewhat constant, but what if the site is round-robinned or some other load-balance. What about the combined power it takes to route packets to/from the server? Would be kinda a neat nerd figure to have.

this has gotta be real... (4, Funny)

Malor (3658) | about 10 years ago | (#10486357)

Since, after all, they included a sin() call. As everyone knows, it's not real math unless it includes a trigonometric function. And lots of parens. Gotta have lots of those.

Shame they didn't work in some of those cool Greek characters, though.

not a story until there's a real reference (2, Informative)

uncadonna (85026) | about 10 years ago | (#10486358)

I usually cut Slashdot editorial some slack, but this is over the top. It's just a link to a tedious example of bad journalism as it stands. It should not have been posted as it stands. There's nothing to discuss.

Experts at British Gas indeed. Why? How? No one is even telling us the quantity that is being calculated in this dubious formula.

If you don't know, guys, kindly don't pass it on. So far it's just noise. Here's a slightly better link [scotsman.com] , but still not, in my opinion, enough to bother with.

Finally (1)

Hecateus (628867) | about 10 years ago | (#10486365)

An equation that explains Everything! so now lets put it on a t-shirt!

Re:Finally (1)

n54 (807502) | about 10 years ago | (#10486463)

imho (humble)

1
-
0

or 1/0 if you wish, explains everything ;)

*goes to make t-shirt*

Asskissing gives you better results than hardwork! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486379)

And from today's joke at thehun.com [thehun.com] (link not work safe!!) ...

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint it goes like this:

What makes 100%?

What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about these people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been to these meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%

How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these question.

If:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

Then:

H A R D W O R K

8+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

K N O W L E D G E

11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But:

A T T I T U D E

1+20+20++9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And:

B U L L S H I T

2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, Look how far ass kissing will take you.

A S S K I S S I N G

1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that whilst hard work and knowledge will get you close, and attitude will get you there, it's the bullshit and ass kissing that will put you over the top.

Re:Asskissing gives you better results than hardwo (1)

wfberg (24378) | about 10 years ago | (#10486457)

Not safe for work link? No kidding! If masturbating won't make you blind, thehun.com [thehun.com] 's color scheme will!

Re:Asskissing gives you better results than hardwo (1)

savagedome (742194) | about 10 years ago | (#10486503)

Yeah. And S L A S H D O T = 19 + 12 + 1 + 19 + 8 + 4 + 15 + 20 = 98% = H A R D W O R K

Decide for yourselves!

Re:Asskissing gives you better results than hardwo (1)

n54 (807502) | about 10 years ago | (#10486522)

S L A S H D O T

19+12+1+19+4+15+20=90%

which could make one think that work=10% but since

W O R K

23+15+18+11=67%

one should be able to prove for any PHB that slashdot and work overlaps by at least a staggering 57%

Btw why post this as AC? You should get recognition for this :)

Re:Asskissing gives you better results than hardwo (1)

n54 (807502) | about 10 years ago | (#10486551)

oops missed an 8 in slasHdot, revise all numbers accordingly

Proof of Murphy's Law (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 10 years ago | (#10486383)

Well, the site's down now. Right when I was about to click on the link to RTFA. Figures.

schneider (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#10486388)

Finally the science of schneidics has gained some academic traction. We've been mapping the normisphere for decades, and schneidotechnology is just over the horizon. We've experimentally determined that the normisphere, a probability "black hole" surrounding the probability totalities of jinxes. We've measured the probability field warps, events that can go wrong, in murphys, and annihilation of incoming events, things that do go wrong, in normys. This new formalization of schneidics will help us in our pursuit of science underpinning the "T = $" equivalence (Time = Money) leading to our ultimate engineering goal: splitting the penny, or shattering the moment, depending on which side of the '=' the proportionality constant falls.

But the equation contains a glaring error! (2, Insightful)

vonWoland (615992) | about 10 years ago | (#10486389)

A for
aggravation
Yes, I know in common usage, "aggravation," has meant an "an exasperated feeling of annoyance" for a long time. However, that is because since at least the time of Dickens, the word has been mistaken for "irritation." Dickens used "aggrivation," for "irritation" to make his Cockney charecters sound funny, and now it makes an already spurious equtaion comical. Of course, that may have been the intent.

However, perhaps we are all a little quick to judge. After all, all we have is a news summary. We must wait for the full article to come out in a scientific journal. May I suggest Annals of Improbable Reaserch [improbable.com] ? Scorn it now, but perhaps we are seeing next year's recipients of the ig Noble Prize [improbable.com] ?

HAH! Sounds like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486422)

...MICROSOFT never followed the formula and advice for solving it!

This article title has rascist overtones..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486424)

....decended from the genocide and propaganda of England subjugating Ireland. It's called Sod's Law - and don't you ever use that racist talk on here again.

Re:This article title has rascist overtones..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486473)

Dude, everyone know it's named after Eddie Murphy, and last I checked, he wasn't Irish... unless he's black Irish.

It's so convenient now! (1)

djfray (803421) | about 10 years ago | (#10486427)

"Don't you like when math backs up common sense?"

yes, yes I do. I also hate when stupidity attempts to back up mythology.

maht? (1)

comwiz56 (447651) | about 10 years ago | (#10486443)

"If anything can go wrong, it will" is a lot easier to understand and alot more reasonable... stupid mathematicitians.

so, aggravation is different from urgency (2, Funny)

nels_tomlinson (106413) | about 10 years ago | (#10486444)

((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10))

So, when we're trying to estimate the parameters, we take logs and get:

log(U+C+I) + log(10-S) - log20 + logA - log(1-sin(F/10))

That means that we can estimate the effects of skill, aggravation and frequency separately, but the effects of urgency, complexity and importance can't be separated from one another.

I'm pretty sure there's some deep, philosophical meaning to that.

Scientific Humor (2, Interesting)

karlandtanya (601084) | about 10 years ago | (#10486451)

((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10))


is what? The number of times per week something will go wrong? A probability function describing the frustration field in the vicinity of a piece of hardware? The length of the scientist's nose?


Where's the equals sign? Or comparison operator? Where's the other half of the equation?


It's cute that somebody's multiplied a bunch of parameters. But they haven't said (mathematically) what that means.


Murphy's law is a humorous observation at man's frustration with the universe. A mathematical descrption of Murphy's law would be scientific humor.


What was reported by NEWS.com.au (and repeated by /.) is not scientific humor. It is, instead, meaningless crap.

Is their formula meta enough? (1)

wan-fu (746576) | about 10 years ago | (#10486458)

But, what happens when their formulation of the law goes wrong? Oops.

Illogical (1)

fa098h23fra (462115) | about 10 years ago | (#10486465)

This formulation was created as a way to formalize the common sense phrasing. Just because they turned it into a bunch of symbols doesn't mean that it adds any validity or explains anything new.

Yvou Fail I7!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10486467)

represent5 7he

Murphy's Law and Schroedinger's cat (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 10 years ago | (#10486483)

Murphy's Law that "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time."

Is actually an inverse corollary of the Schroedinger's cat equations:

"Anything that can go wrong, already has, but you won't observe it until the most critical time."

Now that they have defined it (1)

js3 (319268) | about 10 years ago | (#10486500)

Does this mean they can defy it?

Murphy's law doesn't bug me at all (2, Insightful)

Delta Vel (756242) | about 10 years ago | (#10486501)

It's the Law of Go Figure that rules my life.

Like when you're looking for somebody inside a building. You park next to their car and go inside to find them. If you don't leave a note on their car, they will come out the other door, get into their car without noticing yours, and leave. If you do leave a note, you'll meet up with them inside. Go figure. It's similar, but it's not the same.

I always wonder about those types of "laws"--nobody compares the number of times things go wrong at the worst possible moment to the number of times they do so at the best possible moment, or to the number of times they don't go wrong at all, or to the number of times things save your ass by going "wrong." I think it's pretty obvious that you only notice the times that really suck. I've posted thousands of messages on the internet--sometimes the page gets borked and I lose my post, but it's not exactly a given that if I spend an hour on something then Firefox is going to eat it.

Same for the Law of Go Figure, much as I like it. Seems that if I think "I should save now even though I'm not done" and then get distracted and keep writing, the post does get eaten. But I've started to look for the times that it doesn't and it seems like I do just notice the times that fit my theory.

And Dr. Lewis Is Always Right (4, Funny)

Baldrson (78598) | about 10 years ago | (#10486509)

Project psychologist Dr David Lewis said... "So, if you haven't got the skill to do something important, leave it alone. If something is urgent or complex, find a simple way to do it. If something going wrong will particularly aggravate you, make certain you know how to do it."

When asked why so many of his psychotherapy patients commit suicide, Dr. Lewis went on to say, "You're implying something went wrong. They would have become serial murderers or child rapists if I handn't helped them. Are you saying I should be aggravated over the outcome of having saved lives while protecting little children from molestation? If I didn't have the skills I have, you might not be standing here asking such questions, you Wanker."

Close (4, Informative)

Minwee (522556) | about 10 years ago | (#10486530)

If that actually were Murphy's Law [wikipedia.org] , then that would be an impressive story.

It's not, it's not the same thing as Sod's Law, and the law you're thinking of is Finagle's.

Ironicly, having it called Murphy's Law by a reporter from the Courier-Mail is an example of Murphy's Law.

This is Finagle's Law (1)

dacarr (562277) | about 10 years ago | (#10486532)

This isn't Murphy's Law [catb.org] , it's Finagle's Law.

How appropriate... (0, Offtopic)

OriginalArlen (726444) | about 10 years ago | (#10486552)

For those lucky enuogh to be young enough, or not UK-ish enough to have avoided contact with British Gas - you lucky, lucky bastards!!

Suffice to say that after I moved to a competing provider at the first post-privatisation opportunity, the bastards billed me a totally spurious grand which they then passed to a debt collection agency who just kept on sending pointless threatening letters, eventually my Dad came across one of these things and paid it for me thinking he was doin me a favour. (I had been telling them to see me in court, or fuck off, for two or three years at that point.)

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