antedating of "Murphy's Law" Sept. 1953

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Dec 31 18:38:57 UTC 2008

Previously Fred Shapiro noted the use of the collocation "Murphy's Law" in its
now well-known sense in 1953.

Scientific American, September 1952
"The Amateur Scientist: About home-made cloud chambers and the fine
telescope of a Portugese navy officer," Conducted by Albert G. Ingalls, pp.

p.181 col. 1
At this point enters the well-known 'first law of research'--sometimes called
'Murphy's law.' The law may be stated roughly as follows: 'If anything can go
wrong, it will.'

p.182 col. 3
The department has built several successful diffusion chambers based on Dr.
Cornog's description, but in every case only after some sharp tussles with
Murphy's law.

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society -

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