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VinUniversity's official student blog, for students, by students.

The Law of Bad Luck

"Anything can go wrong, will go wrong" - Edward Murphy

In 1949, United States Air Forces (USAF) hosted an experiment about “human tolerance for g-forces during rapid deceleration”, using a rocket that slides on a railroad track at high speed, then stops suddenly at the end. They used a human dummy at first, then turned to real human for more accurate data. However, when they did a trial test with a chimpanzee, an unexpected issue appeared…

No, this is not about an aviation disaster. The rocket with the chimpanzee didn’t explode or fly out of the railroad. The experiment was a success, the chimpanzee was safely brought to the ground, but, the data collected from the experiment was a complete zero, because all 16 sensors on the rocket were wrongly installed.

Seeing the issue that should be impossible, Edward Murphy, an aerospace engineer of USAF and also the one who designed the sensor, had to helplessly say that: “Anything can go wrong, will go wrong”. And that’s the start for the law that was used to define unfortunate events, the Murphy’s Law.

That law can also apply to another creature, the creature of misfortune, which is black cat. I have heard a lot of stories about dead people turning into undead (like zombies, but Asian) after being jumped over by a black cat, or how it is related to dark magic and witches, but most of all, it brings unfortunate to people who see them. That’s why I still cannot convince my parents to adopt a cat, and also the reason for me to choose black cat as my mascot.

In case you want to ask, I don’t have anything related to dark magic. I’m just super, super unlucky. And, because of that, I think I’m the most suitable person to share with you that interesting (and ridiculous) law of bad luck.

You don’t believe me?

Then let’s start.

Murphy’s Law 1: Anything can go wrong, will go wrong

Have you ever brought a lottery ticket?

I haven’t, because for me, it’s kind of meaningless. I have never won any prize in the lucky box, but it’s only when there are prizes and no prizes. When there are prizes, no prizes and punishment, somehow, the punishment will fall into my hand.

I think you already experienced some of them, because my friends also complain about it, although not as usual as me. Some examples are:

If my teacher used roulette to choose the one who had to present their work, 90% of them would choose me or my team.

If I join a competition and the organizers use a lucky draw to match the competing pairs, the team who competes with my team in the group stage is usually the champion.

When I go to the supermarket, I have to choose the grocery very carefully. Because if I randomly choose it, I will pick the only error of the whole batch.

When I buy a book, there’s a high chance it’ll have some blank error pages.

Et cetera.

What I learned from this law is that you should be as careful as you can. You will not know when or where the disaster will fall to your head, so please be careful and well-prepared.

Murphy’s Law 2: Everything takes longer than you think.

Let’s imagine, you go to a convenience store at 7am to buy a…let’s say a cup of coffee. It’s quick to make, but you still need to queue to order. The line is very, very long, to the point that the cashier doesn’t smile anymore. You look at the next line, which has fewer customers, so you transfer to it to reduce time.

However, the payment app of the customer in front of you suddenly has an error. Their groceries are checked and packed, and they only have a phone, so they can’t change the payment method. So, you have to stay there and wait for the app to turn back to normal, and during that time, your old position in the former line has already finished and gone.

At least, the coffee was good.

It happened a lot to me, in all situations you can imagine, from an error payment app, error checking machine, goods can’t be checked, to being denied because the cashier doesn’t receive cash. So, please be calm and patient, and think about solutions for all problems you can have.

Murphy’s Law 3: Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

Now, let's be honest, you've carried an umbrella on all sunny days and forgot it when rain comes, right?

That’s the favorite joke of mother nature. Another one is that she “cries” at 4am, right at the day I forgot to take the laundry in and leave it on the rack overnight, and I have to wash it again the next day.

You may not see, but they’re all wet. Damn you nature.

Mother nature loves to joke with us, so one tip for you: check your hat and umbrella before leaving home, you don’t know when she wants you to suffer.

Murphy’s Law 5: It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

I believe this was actually what Murphy said in the issue I mentioned above.

I don’t want to call anyone a fool, but in some cases, with some certain individuals, I have to say that their stupidity is beyond what I can imagine.

You must agree with me, that working with trouble-maker is the worst experience a student can go through. I had three works - at least, according to what I remembered - being screwed up by my teammates, and after that, the basic mistakes I can point out are: One, believe that they can do their tasks properly without your check up. Two, don’t push them because you want to keep them comfortable, then almost miss the deadline. Three, don’t report to the teacher, try to solve it on your own but simply can’t. Four…your turn, I know you have something to share, too.

From my professor with mad. I wonder if they fixed them.

In summary, I prefer working by myself. However, in VinUni, teamwork is a required skill, so I…we don’t have any choice. You can find a group of reliable friends to make a group, to ensure the quality of your work. But in my opinion, working with trouble-makers isn’t that bad, because we can learn problem-solving skills, which would help us a lot in our work in future, although, I have to admit that it was not funny at all.

Moreover, I also think that you should be patient with those “fools”, because they might be real geniuses. Who knows, maybe the ones who “do all the work” are actually not us as we thought.

Above are 5 principles of Murphy’s Law. They suit my life a lot, however, the legend I actually believe in is we have to experience small misfortunes, so we can gain enough luck to avoid the big one. I think it’s true, because when it comes to the situation of life and death, the lucky goddess is always on my side. So, I think my true hidden power is “small bad luck and big good luck”…at least I want to think like that. Being the favorite student of Murphy’s Law is frustrating enough for me.

Do you also believe in that legend? Or do you think you are a symbol of misfortune like me? Share with us in the comment, so we can discuss it together.

Wish for all the luck to be by your side. See you in the next post.




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