May 24, 2013 and Murpy’s Law

Honeysuckle wine…well, mead…

Yesterday Kim informed me that there was no visible bubbling in the fermentation bucket, but that there was a “citrusy funkiness.” But the prospects look better as of this morning, based on her “Bubbling this morning!” comment on facebook. That’s all I know. And it will be late Sunday before I have a better view.

As for Murphy’s Law, if I can trust Mr. Palmer of How To Brew – and I have no reason to believe I can’t – then this (from p. 84) is an interesting little aside:

Did you ever wonder where Murphy’s Law came from? Well, back at work there was a photocopy of a short article from one of the aerospace trade journals on the wall of my friend’s cubicle. It went something like this:

Captain Murphy was part of an engineering team out at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Their team was investigating the effects of high-gravity decelerations on jet pilots back in the 1950s. One of their tests involved strapping a test pilot into a rocket chair equipped with strain gauges and other sensors to help them quantify the effects of high-G stopping. The responsibility for the placement of the various sensors was Murphy’s. Well, the test was run (subjecting the pilot to something like 100 G’s of deceleration), and he got pretty banged up.

Only after it was over did the team realize that of all the possible combinations of placing those sensors, Murphy had done it in the one configuration that resulted in useless data. They would have to run the test again. Upon realizing this, Murphy stated, “If there are two or more ways of doing something, and one of them can result in catastrophe, someone will do it that way.” Upon hearing this the team leader said, “That’s Murphy’s Law.” The next day at the test debriefing the team leader shortened it to the now famous, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Murphy still likes his version better.

“If there are two or more ways of doing something…”, doesn’t quite roll of the tongue, but I must agree with Murphy that these two quips don’t exactly say the same thing. In any case, Palmer was just being cute, trying to reinforce that brewing leaves plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong when you don’t actively do something to stop them from going wrong.

And an additional side-note, every single physics teacher I have ever had would cringe at the word “deceleration”, I think. I was repeatedly told, “It’s still acceleration,” since vectors include both direction and magnitude. Inner geek out…

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