The Mathematics of Murphy's Law
US Air Force Captain Edward Murphy said it in 1949, and we all paraphrase: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Most of the scientific community has written off the law as a myth - a result of selective memory or a self-fulfilling expectation. But an amateur mathematician from the UK has another explanation. Phillip Obayda drew up an equation combining the factors that influence the performance of a task - urgency, complexity, and importance, as well as skill (or lack thereof). He calculated the likelihood of a few familiar scenarios. The good news: To change the odds, all you have to do is alter one element of the equation. For instance, try to avoid doing anything complex or important when you're in a rush, particularly if it requires skills you don't have. But in general, the math proves that the universe really does hate you.
Things that go wrong - and their probabilities*
Spilling something on yourself right before a date: 85%
Rush hour is worse when you're late: 73%
Email crashes while you're sending important documents: 70%
Doorbell/phone rings while you're in the shower: 53%
* Average chance that this will happen at some point, based on a survey of 1,023 unlucky chumps.