"Murphy's Laws" and the Harvard Speculative Society
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Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 21 00:38:09 UTC 1999
....editors as well as laboratory workers are subject to Murphy's Laws, to
I. If something can go wrong, it will.
II. When left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.
III. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
--SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, April 1956, pg. 166, col. 2.
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION published the first science fiction story
titled "Murphy's Law" (in 1958), but some other "laws" that they published
are also interesting. An article titled "The Laws of Speculation" was
published September 1952, pp. 6+.
This is from ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, July 1953, pg. 151:
THE THREE LAWS OF STUPIDYNAMICS
First Stupidity Theorem: The probability of predicting correctly in total
ignorance is zero.
Second Stupidity Theorem: The only thing you can learn is something you
Third Stupidity Theorem: You can't tell a man something he doesn't
understand and expect him to make use of it.
Thanks to Dr. Wayne Batteau,
Harvard Speculative Society
This is from ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, November 1953, pg. 8, col. 1:
I suggest that there are some laws of ethics that are not human, but
Universal. Wayne Batteau and his Speculative Society group at Harvard sent
me one little pair of statements that are decidedly revealing in that respect.
"You can't win." (The Law of Conservation of Energy.)
"You can't even break even." (Second Law of Thermodynamics.)
Who is Wayne Batteau and what is this Harvard Speculative Society?
This is his obituary in the NEW YORK TIMES, 30 October 1967, pg. 45,
Dr. Wayne Batteau, a researcher in underwater communication, died of a
heart attack in Honolulu on Thursday. He was 51 years old.
For the last eight years, Dr. Batteau served as president of Listening
Post, Inc., of Arlington. The organization conducts experiments with
dolphins at Sea Life Park near Honolulu under a Navy contract.
A graduate of Harvard University, Dr. Batteau taught mechanical
engineering there and at Tufs (sic) University before entering underwater
Surviving are his widow, the former Bianca Delia Matos, and six children.
I recently sent a query to Harvard University Archives. With six
children, there should be someone still alive to ask questions.
Specifically: Are there any remaining papers of the Harvard Speculative
Society, and what were its "laws"?
A web site by Kenneth W. LeVasseur (at http://whales.magna.com.au)
discusses Batteau's work with dolphins. It's stated there that Batteau had
drowned. Dr. Dwight Wayne Batteau (his full name) was featured in NEWSWEEK,
4 December 1961, pp. 80-81, "ACOUSTICS: The Ears Have It."
"Spacemen Die Hard" was a short story by Chester S. Geier that appeared
in FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, February 1952, pages 64+. There's no "Murphy's
Law," but the central character was one Mournful Murphy. This is from page
Murphy, ruthless space pirate, was indestructible. Until the day he faced a
weapon that could not kill
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