The Three Laws of Thermodynamics
(mathematically precise version)

  1. You can't win.
  2. You can break even only on a very cold day.
  3. It never gets that cold.

Murphy's Law:
    If anything can go wrong, it will. (Not written by Murphy but by another man with the same name.)

Murphy's Seven Original Laws:

  1. In any field of scientific endeavor, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
  2. Left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.
  3. 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.
  4. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
  5. Mother Nature is a bitch.
  6. If everything seems to be going well, you obviously overlooked something.

Levy's Nine Laws of the Disillusionment of the True Liberal  —Marion J. Levy, Jr.

  1. Large numbers of things are determined, and therefore not subject to change.
  2. Anticipated events never live up to expectations.
  3. That segment of the community with which one has the greatest sympathy as a liberal inevitably turns out to be one of the most narrow minded and bigoted segments of the community.
    (Marion Stanley Kelley, Jr.'s Reformulation: Last guys don't finish nice.)
  4. Always pray that your opposition be wicked. In wickedness there is a strong strain toward rationality. Therefore, there is always the possibility, in theory, of handling the wicked by outthinking them.
    Corollary one: Good intentions randomize behavior.
    Corollary Two: If good intentions are combined with stupidity, it is impossible to outthink them.
  5. In unanimity, there is cowardice and uncritical thinking.
  6. To have a sense of humor is to be a tragic figure.
  7. To know thyself is the ultimate form of aggression.
  8. No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.
  9. Only God can make a random selection.

Aigner's Axiom:
No matter how well you perform your job, a superior will seek to modify the results.

The Airplane Law:
When the plane you are on is late, the plane you want to transfer to is on time.

Baruch's Observation:
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Bedfellow's Rule:
The one who snores will always fall asleep first.

Berliner's Law:
Don't worry about what people think of you. They don't.

Berliner's Mother's Observation, a.k.a the Guiding Force of the Cosmos:
IAOIO: The Innate Animosity of Inanimate Objects.

Berra's Second Law:
Anyone who is popular is bound to be disliked.

Blair's Observation:
The best laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal.

Bucy's Law:
Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.

The Bureaucracy Principle:
Only a bureaucracy can fight a bureaucracy.

Cole’s Law:
thinly sliced cabbage.

Dedera's Law of Probabilities:
In a three-story building served by one elevator, nine times out of ten the elevator car will be on a floor where you are not.

Dlott's Law of Certainties:
The more actual data there is, the less certain the explanation.
Suslick's Religious Corollary: When there is no data, there is complete certainty.

Etorre's Observation:
The other line always moves faster.

First Law of Aviation:
Takeoff is optional, landing is compulsory.

First Law of Debate:
Never argue with a fool -- people might not know the difference.

First Law of Socio-Genetics:
Celibacy is not hereditary.

First Law of Travel:
It always takes longer to get there than to get back.

Glasner's Law:
If it says "one size fits all," it doesn't fit anyone.

Goldenstern's Rules:
1. Always hire a rich attorney.
2. Never buy from a rich salesman.

Gourd's Axiom:
A meeting is a event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.

Gualtieri's Law of Inertia:
Where there's a will, there's a won't.

Harris Lament:
All the good ones are taken.

Helga's Rule:
Say no, then negotiate.

Heller's Law:
The first myth of management is that it exists.

Hershiser's Second Rule:
The label "NEW" and/or "IMPROVED" means the price went up.

Oliver Herford's Rule of Publishing
A manuscript is something submitted in haste and returned at leisure.

Hockett's Fundamental Principle of Mathmaticizing:
If you know exactly how to, you don't have to!

Howden's Law:
You remember to mail a letter only when you're nowhere near a mailbox.

Howe's Law:
Everyone has a scheme that will not work.

Munder's Corollary to Howe's Law:
Everyone who does not work has a scheme that does.

Imbesi's Law of the Conservation of Filth:
In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.

Freeman's Extension:
… but you can get everything dirty without getting anything clean.

Jacquin's Postulate on Democratic Government:
No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

Las Vegas Law:
Never be on a loser because you think his luck is bound to change.

Law of Probable Dispersal:
Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

Lieberman's Law:
Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter since nobody listens.

Lynch's Law:
When the going gets tough, everyone leaves.

McDonald's Corollary to Murphy's Law's:
In any given set of circumstances, the proper course of action is determined by subsequent events.

Meadow's Maxim:
You can't push on a rope.

Meyer's Law:
In a social situation, that which is most difficult to do is usually the right thing to do.

Mitchell's Law of Committees:
A simple problem can be made insoluble if enough meetings are held to discuss it.

Mollison's Bureaucracy Hypothesis:
If any idea can survive a bureaucratic review and be implemented, it wasn't worth doing.

Mr. Cole's Axiom:
The sum of the intelligence on the planet is constant; the population is growing.

Nagler's Comment of the Origin of Murphy's Law:
Murphy's Law was not propounded by Murphy, but my another man of the same name.

Ninety Percent Rules of Project Schedules:
The first ninety percent of the take takes ten percent of the time, and the last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.

Olivier's Law:
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

Pfeifer's Principle:
Never make a decision you can get someone else to make.

Pudder's Law:
Anything that begins well, ends badly. Anything that begins badly ends worse.

The Queue Principle:
The longer you wait in line, the greater the likelihood that you are standing in the wrong line.

Ringwald's Law of Household Geometry:
Any horizontal surface is soon piled up.

The Roman Rule:
The one who says it cannot be done should never interrupt the one who is doing.

Rule of the Great:
When people you greatly admire appear to be thinking deep thoughts, they are probably thinking about lunch.

Schopenhauer's Law of Entropy:
If you put a spoonful of wine in a barrel full of sewage, you get sewage. If you put a spoonful of sewage in a barrel full of wine, you get sewage.

Shapiro's Explanation:
The grass is always greener on the other side - but that's because they use more manure.

Simon's Law of Destiny:
Glory may be fleeting, but obscurity is forever.

Skoff's Law:
A child will not spill on a dirty floor.

Smith's Law:
No real problem has a solution.

Sociology's Iron Law of Oligarchy:
In every organized activity, no matter the sphere, a small number will become the oligarchical leaders and the others will follow.

Stewart's Law of Retroaction:
It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Suslick's Scheme of Priorities:
If it isn't worth doing,
it isn't worth doing right.

Suslick's Law of Information Transport:
Knowledge comes by the truckload, but wisdom arrives one mouthful at a time.

Suslick's Law of Threes:
It always takes three times to do anything right.
The first time you either overshoot or undershoot;
   the second time you either over-compensate or under-compensate;
      it's not until the third time that you have a chance to get it right.

Suslick's Couture:
Ties are what administrators use to cut off the flow of blood to their brains.

Suslick's Observations on Educational Strata:
High School education is learning that which most people know.
Undergraduate education is learning that which most people don't know.
Graduate education is learning that which no one knows.

Suslick's Metaphorical Ego:
Ego is a house cat.
It's nice to stroke, but watch out for the claws;
it needs feeding often, and heaven help you if it gets out the front door.

Suslick's Laws of Management:
1. There is no such thing as a pet shark.
2. If you bring in a shark to get rid of a shark, all you get is a bigger, meaner shark.

Suslick's First Law of Maps:
All countries are the same size—one map page.
(Many Europeans do not realize the sense of scale of the U.S. For example, a visiting French postdoc a few years ago was bitterly disappointed to discover that he couldn't just drive from Illinois over to Colorado to go skiing for the weekend.)

Suslick's First Law of Infant Gravity:
You can't fall off the floor.

Suslick's Second Law of Infant Gravity:
It takes an infant 6 months to learn this.

Suslick's Scoff:
Cynicism is the first refuge of the romantic.

Swipple's Rule of Order:
He who shouts loudest has the floor.

Thal's Law:
For every vision, there is an equal and opposite revision.

Trischmann's Paradox:
A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.

Vile's Law of Value:
The more an item costs, the farther you have to send it for repairs.

Westheimer's Rule:
To estimate the time it takes to do a task: estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by 2, and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus we allocate 2 days for a one-hour task.

Wethern's Law of Suspended Judgment:
Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.


Overview Current Group
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of Waters
Research Group
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with PDFs
A Chemist
Meets Hollywood
Executive Summary:
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A Chemist
In Court
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Words of
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Introduction to
Laws of
the Universe
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Photo Galleries
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Nature Cover 2002

Science Cover 1990

Science Cover 1991

MRS Cover 1995

Supramolecular Chemistry 1998

The Journal of Physical Chemistry 2006
Nature Cover 2002

Science Cover 1990

Science Cover 1991

MRS Cover 1995

Supramolecular Chemistry 1998

The Journal of Physical Chemistry 2006