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Murphy's law - Wikipedia
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In and , tests to see how humans could tolerate G forces on impact and while flying at high speeds were being carried out at Edwards Air Force base in the Mojave Desert in California. John Stapp, a U. Air Force colonel and Flight Surgeon in the s, was in charge. A key sensor was installed completely backward, allegedly by Murphy , who never checked it before it was made operational.
As a result, the test went utterly haywire much to the embarrassment of everyone concerned. It really took off pardon the pun in when the Mercury astronauts cited Murphy's Law in explaining why everything was checked and rechecked before spaceflight. Murphy died in In the s, he worked on the Apollo moon mission on safety and life protection issues.
He always claimed his law was a positive development, by teaching people to expect the worst and safeguarding against it. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the first one to go wrong. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
It was absolutely inconceivable that anybody could go that fast and then just stop, and survive. Nevertheless, when he was unstrapped from the chair, Dr. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. As for Dr. He had also cracked some ribs, broken his wrists, and had some internal injuries to his respiratory and circulatory systems. And on the note of his eyes, he was initially blind after, with it assumed that his retinas had detached. However, upon investigation, it was determined they had not, and within a few hours his sight mostly came back, with minor residual effects on his vision that lasted the rest of his life.
Apparently not knowing when to quit, once he had healed up, he planned yet another experiment to really see the limits of human endurance via strapping himself to that same sled and attempting to reach 1, mph this time…. Risks like those are worthwhile. To lead up to this, he conducted further experiments, going all the way up to 80Gs with a test dummy, at which point the Sonic Wind itself ripped off the tracks and was damaged.
It is probably for the best that it was here that his superiors stepped in. As you might imagine given his end goal was seemingly to figure out the extreme upper limit of G forces a human could survive with a perfected restraint system, and to use himself as the guinea pig until he found that limit, Dr. Stapp had previously run into the problem of his superiors ordering him to stop and instead to use chimpanzees exclusively.
But while he did occasionally use chimpanzees, he went ahead and ignored the direct order completely. After all, he needed to be able to feel it for himself or be able to talk to the person experiencing the effects of the extreme Gs to get the best possible data. And, of course, no better way to find out what a human could take than use a human. Rather than getting in trouble, he ultimately got a promotion thanks to the extreme benefits of his work. However, after his After all, he had already achieved the intended goal of helping to develop better restraint and ejection systems, and proved definitively that a human could survive ejecting at the fastest speeds aircraft of the day could travel.
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So how did he do that? Well, during the experiments, Dr. In fact, Dr.
Stapp frequently pointed out to his superiors that they lost about as many pilots each year to car accidents as they did in the air. After all, tens of thousands of people each year in the U. Thus, in nearly every interview he gave about his famous experiments almost from the very beginning of the project, he would inevitably guide the conversation around to the benefits of what they were doing if adopted in automobiles.
Beyond that, he used his clout within the Air Force to convince them to allow him to conduct a series of experiments into auto safety, test crashing cars in a variety of ways using crash test dummies and, in certain carefully planned tests, volunteer humans, to observe the effects. This was one of the first times anyone had tried such a scientifically rigorous, broad look into commercial automobile safety. He also tested various restraint systems, in some tests subjecting the humans to as high as a measured 28 Gs.
go Besides this and other ways he championed improvement in automobile safety, he also served as a medical advisor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, in both heavily pushing for better safety systems. It is no coincidence that not long after Dr. Stapp started these campaigns, car manufacturers started installing seatbelts as a matter of course, as well as started to put much more serious thought into making cars safer in crashes. In the end, while Dr.
Stapp got little public credit for helping to convince car manufacturers to prioritize automobile safety, and provided much of the initial data to help them design such systems, he was at least invited to be present when President Johnson signed the bill that made seat belts required in cars in At 43, feet, I find out [what can go wrong]. My right hand does not feel normal.
I examine the pressure glove; its air bladder is not inflating. The prospect of exposing the hand to the near-vacuum of peak altitude causes me some concern.
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From my previous experiences, I know that the hand will swell, lose most of its circulation, and cause extreme pain…. I decide to continue the ascent, without notifying ground control of my difficulty… Circulation has almost stopped in my unpressurized right hand, which feels stiff and painful… [Upon landing] Dick looks at the swollen hand with concern. Three hours later the swelling disappeared with no ill effect. His total ascent took 1 hour and 31 minutes, he stayed at the peak altitude for 12 minutes, and his total decent took 13 minutes and 45 seconds, so his hand was exposed to a near vacuum for quite some time without long term ill effects.
Incidentally, during his fall, he achieved a peak speed of mph, nearly as fast as Dr.
Stapp had managed in his little rocket sled. His experience, however, was very different than Dr. Said Kittinger,. You have no depth perception. There are no signposts.