Compilation of Very Important But Little Known Scientific Principles

Related to Certain Peculiar Laws of Inexactitude Perversity
and Whimsey in Scientific Endeavor

MURPHY'S LAW - If anything can go wrong, it will.

SKINNER'S CONSTANT - That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to, or subtracted from the answer you get, gives you the answer you should have gotten.
(This is also known as Flannegan's Finangling Factor)

HORNER'S FIVE-THUMB - Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

CAHN'S AXIOM - When all else fails, read the instructions.

THE SPARE PARTS PRINCIPLE - The accessibility, during recovery of small parts which fall from the work bench, varies directly with the size of the part - and inversely with its importance to the completion of the work underway.

GUMPERSON'S LAW - The probability of a given event occurring is inversely proportional to its desirability.

THE ORDERING PRINCIPLE - Those supplies necessary for yesterday's experiment must be ordered no later than tomorrow noon.

THE TRANSCRIPTION SQUARE LAW - The number of errors made is equal to the sum of the "squares" employed.

CHISHOLM'S LAW OF HUMAN - Anytime that things appear to be going better you have overlooked something.

RIDDLE'S CONSTANT - There are coexisting elements in frustration phenomena which separate expected results from achieved results.

THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL INTERACTION - In any calculation, any error which can creep in, will.

RULE OF ACCURACY - When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.

ADVANCED'S COROLLARY - Provide, of course, that you know there
is a problem.

Author Unknown


A Guide to Understanding Chemistry Papers

"It has been long known that .... "
- I have not bothered to look up the original reference

"Three samples were chosen for detailed study."
- The results of the others did not make sense and were ignored.

"Typical results are shown."
- The best results are shown.

"reversible reaction"
- starting material recovered

"The reaction proceeded vigorously and exothermically but the final yield was small."
- I couldn't scrape it all off the ceiling.

"The compound hydrolyses readily."
- The water pump sucked back.

"The compound readily forms a nickel complex."
- My spatula dissolved in it.

"Stirred for 60 hours to rearrange."
- I went away for a blinding week-end.

"A flash distillation was performed."
- The apparatus went up in flames.

"Aliquots were titrated at 30 minute intervals."
- A round trip to the local pub/snack bar/coffee shop and back takes 25 minutes.

- it worked twice

"to some extent".
- it worked once

"Despite unorthodox methods ..."
- I got the answer, out of a book

"time honoured method"
- it worked last year

"within reasonable limits of error".
- 15% either way

"This procedure was omitted due to time limitations."
- I forgot to do it.

"beyond a shadow of a doubt"
- maybe

"It is generally believed that ..."
- couple of other guys think so too

"a semi-quantitative estimate"
- a guess + a fiddle factor

"By use of a well-known conversion formula ... "
- Cooke's variable constant

"identified spectroscopically"
- the right color

"trivial objections"
- unanswerable arguments

"Ethanol residues were recovered."
- but the author hasn't yet.

"While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions ..."
- the experiments did not work

"It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding..."
- I do not understand.

Author Unknown