I’ve been meaning to post this up for a while, but kept forgetting. The backstory: After one of my grandfathers passed a few years back, we found several papers in his files with engineering humor. I’ve collected (and, to some extent, [sanitized–particularly given the forum filters]) the various laws of engineering.
- In any field of scientific endeavor, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
- Left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.
- If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will go wrong, is the one that will do the most damage.
- Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
- Mother Nature is a [redacted].
- If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
- Nothing is as easy as it looks.
- Everything takes longer than you think it will.
O’Toole’s Commentary on Murphy’s Laws : Murphy was an optimist.
90/90 Rule : The first 90% of a task takes 90% of the time. The last 10% takes the other 90% of the time.
Action’s Law: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Albrecht’s Law : Social innovations tend to the level of minimum tolerable well-being.
Allen’s Axiom : When all else fails, read the instructions.
Barth’s Distinction : There are two types of people-those who divide people into two groups and those who don’t.
Bowie’s Theorem : If an experiment works you must be using the wrong equipment.
Carlson’s Consolation : Nothing is ever a complete failure; it can always serve as a bad example.
Carter’s Law : If the facts do not conform to the theory, ignore them. [Ed. Note 2017-2020: Also “Trump’s Law”.]
Clarke’s Third Law : Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Cohn’s Law : The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Stability is achieved when you spend all your time reporting on the nothing you are doing.
Correspondence Corollary : An experiment may be considered a success if no more than half your data must be discarded to obtain correspondence with your theory.
Cropp’s Law : The amount of work done varies inversely with the amount of time spent in the office.
Cutler Webster’s Law : There are two sides to every argument, unless a person is personally involved, in which case there is only one.
Dow’s Law : In a hierarchical organization, the higher the level, the greater the confusion.
Editor’s Law : When you can’t think of what to write, plagiarize.
Finagle’s Laws :
- Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it makes it worse.
- No matter what results are expected someone is always willing to fake it.
- No matter what the result someone is always eager to misinterpret it.
- No matter what occurs, someone believes it happened according to his pet theory.
Fourth Law for Politicians : Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.
Goldberg’s Observation : The line you are not in always moves faster.
Gordon’s Law : If a project is not worth doing at all, it is not worth doing well.
Government’s Law: There is an exception to all laws.
Gumperson’s Law: The probability of a given event occurring is inversely proportional to its desirability.
Harvard Law : Under the most carefully controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, humidity, and other variables, the system will perform as it [bloody] well pleases.
Hubbard’s Law : Don’t take life too seriously; you won’t get out of it alive.
Jenkinson’s Law : It won’t work.
Jenning’s Corollary to the Law of Selective Gravity : The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
Larkinson’s Law : All laws are basically false.
Law of Continuity : Experiments should be reproducible. They should all fail in the same way.
Law of Selective Gravity : An object will fall so as to do the most damage.
Law of the Too Solid Goof : In any collection of data, the figures that are obviously correct beyond all need of checking contain the errors.
___Corollary 1 : No one you ask for help will see the error either.
___Corollary 2 : Any nagging intruder who stops by with unsought advice will spot it immediately.
Lord Howard’s Law : Every man has a fantastic scheme that will not work.
May’s Law : The quality of correlation is inversely proportional to the density of control. (The fewer the data points, the smoother the curve.)
Mencken’s Law : There is always an easy answer to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Non-reciprocal Laws of Expectations : Negative expectations yield negative results. Positive expectations yield negative results.
Parkinson’s Law : Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
Parkinson’s Law, Modified : The components you have will expand to fill the available space.
Peter’s Principle : In every hierarchy, each employee tends to rise to the level of his incompetence.
Pettigrew’s Law of Small Problems : Inside of every small problem, there is a large problem struggling to get out.
Pudder’s Law : Anything that begins well will end badly. (Note: the converse of Pudder’s Law is not true.)
Rudin’s Law : In a crisis that forces a choice to be made among alternative courses of action, people tend to choose the worst possible course.
Ryan’s Law : Make three correct guesses consecutively and you will establish yourself as an expert.
Sattingler’s Law : It works better if you plug it in.
Schultz’s Law : When in doubt, mumble.
The Golden Rule : Those who have the gold make the rules.
The Law of the Perversity of Nature : You cannot determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
Thyme’s Law : Everything goes wrong at once.
Unnamed Law : If it happens, it must be possible.
Weiler’s Law : Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do the work.
Whitehead’s Law : The obvious answer is always overlooked.
Wilcox’s Law : A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the pants.
Woodward’s Law : A theory is better than the explanation.
Zalenski’s First Law of Evolving Thermodynamics : Once a can of worms is opened, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.
The True Meaning of Some Words Commonly Used by Engineers
OFFICE – A small room where engineers are seldom found among ringing telephones buried beneath mountains of paper.
DRAFTING ROOM – A larger room filled with tables covered with larger mountains of paper. Engineers not found in the LAB (defined below) are usually found here [holding technical conferences, also see next entry] with designers.
LAB – A larger room filled with impressive (expensive) test equipment and coffee pots. This facility is used by engineers to drink coffee and hold technical conferences (about their cars, or other important matters).
CONFERENCE ROOM – A meeting room designed specifically for [technical] sessions.
EO – Stands for Engineering Order (to change drawings). This very important document allows the engineer to correct previous mistakes and make new ones thus creating mountains of paper.
DRAWING – A large EO with ample room for more mistakes (see above definition).
SPEC – Abbreviation for specification – A lot of words (nobody understands) attempting to describe something that doesn’t work.
DRM – The Drafting Room Manual – A big book of instructions on how to draw mistakes properly.
ENGINEER – A person highly educated in the skills of creating paperwork and drinking coffee.
DESIGNER – Same as the above except more skilled at drinking coffee.
TECHNICIAN – A person sometimes found in the LAB (see above) who is highly skilled in turning knobs on test equipment and making coffee.
MACHINIST – A person skilled in reading drawings and making metal mistakes that look like the ones on the drawings plus adding a few of their own.