Improbable Research
The Fastest Man on Earth (Overview and Index)

book cover
The book: Nick Spark continued researching this topic, and in 2006 published the book A History of Murphy's Law, ISBN 0978638891

The Fastest Man on Earth (Overview and Index)

Why Everything You Know About Murphy’s Law is Wrong

by Nick T. Spark and
Los Angeles, California

This page is an overview (with an index) of the 4-part series. Click on the following links to see the body of the article:

Part 1 -- The Road to Murphy’s Law
Part 2 -- The “Careful Daredevil”
Part 3 -- Catching Up With Murphy
Part 4 -- The Voice of Murphy

Figure 0. Photos of John Paul Stapp, Edward A. Murphy, Jr., and some of the other individuals involved in the birth of Murphy’s Law, as chronicled in this article. Photos and materials in the collage courtesy of: David Hill, Edwards Air Force Base History Office; Raymond Puffer; Robert Murphy; and the collection of Nick Spark.


I have become the world’s leading expert on Murphy’s Law. No really, I’m serious. You doubtless have heard the Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. To some it is a profound statement of philosophy, a reminder that life can be defined just as much by its inherent challenges as anything else. To others however the Law is a pessimistic comment that underscores, albeit in more elegant terms, that shit happens.

Whatever you might think about Murphy’s Law, one thing is certain: it is as ubiquitous an expression as there is in American English. Over the years it has been cited in thousands of articles, websites and news reports, been the subject of several books, appeared as the title of at least one bad Charles Bronson movie and a TV show, and inspired about a dozen zillion corollary Laws. Just about every time something goes wrong somewhere, the Law gets its two cents in. Fortunately my expertise owes very little to actual adversity — I’m not writing this from a hospital bed — and almost everything to research. Historical research. Which is to say I have become the expert on the origins of Murphy’s Law. This happened by accident…and if I’d known what the consequences would be of sticking my nose into it — how I’d draw the wrath of Chuck Yeager, get caught in the middle of a nasty 20-year feud, and nearly wind up in a hospital bed — I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

This page is an overview (with an index) of the 4-part series. Click the links at the top of the page to see the body of the article.

© Copyright 2003 Nick T. Spark.
HotAIR web site © Copyright 2003 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)