Miller’s Laws of Motion — or What Newton Didn’t Tell Us

Forget your physics class.  Travel is another dimension, where things happen according to a different set of natural laws.  I’ve modestly labeled the following as Miller’s Laws of Motion, but readers of this blog are welcome to add their own to the list….

1) The narrower the road, the more likely you are to be stuck behind a very slow driver.

When my family lived in rural New Hampshire, we called this the “Dan Hill syndrome.”  Dan was a wonderfully kind farmer who lived up the road from us and who seemed to believe that horse speed was the maximum appropriate for human travel.  Which wouldn’t have been so noticeable except for the fact that we all lived on a one-lane dirt road that went up a very long and steep incline making passing absolutely impossible – which forced us to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

2) The greater your desperation to reach a destination, the higher the odds that you’ll make a wrong turn; if the person waiting for you is an angry spouse, the odds go to 100%

All married people know what this is about.  Although I’ve found important business meetings and doctor appointments to have a similar effect on traffic conditions.

3) GPS does not know when you would rather go out for drink than to a meeting.

This may be more of a metaphysical fact than a law of physics.  But the implications for free will and predestination are immense – when we diverge from the GPS-directed route are we seizing control of our lives or do those machines have a built-in “prepare to recalculate” sensor that already knows what we think we’re spontaneously deciding?  Is that why does the voice is always able to remain calm and polite – it isn’t really surprised by anything we do?   I’m getting nervous.

4) Flat tires always occur in pairs, so that you are always without a spare when the second occurs.

This seems to be more true of bike trips than car travel, especially on long rides away from your local bike store or on group rides where you have to either hold up everyone else while you desperately try to slide the tube off the rim or graciously tell everyone to keep going knowing that you’re going to be totally lost even if the tire is eventually fixed.  And I’m convinced that if I brought two extra tubes the bike would find some way to create a third wheel that needs fixing.

5) Your spouse always makes – and leaves – a bigger mess in the car than you do.

I’m sure that it isn’t always the female partner in a relationship who is magically able to generate trash merely by sitting in a car seat….but I think its best if I stop this line of discussion right here.

6) When two moving bodies pass the point of passage will be at the narrowest possible location in the travel corridor.

This is the most important of Miller’s Laws of Motion.  It is most noticeable when you are jogging or cycling along a path.  But you can also experience its impact when walking on the sidewalk, or pushing baby carriage, or even driving on a narrow road.  Don’t think this happens?  Just start paying attention as you move along – it’s scary how often a telephone pole or pothole or other obstruction will suddenly appear at exactly the location you end up passing someone.  This is so obviously the work of evil spirits that it unsettles the entire philosophical foundation of scientific materialism, although I include it as a law of motion because of the need to anticipate its occurrence whenever I leave my house.  Fortunately, knowledge is power and by being prepared for a squeeze every time I pass anything I’ve been able to avoid accidents and injury – so far!

7)  The Law of Asymmetric Inclines.

This seems to be visible more to bicyclists than anyone else:  based on the amount of time elapsed, more of your life is always spent working hard going uphill than taking it easy coming down.  This flagrant violation of the core physics law of symmetry used to greatly upset me — until I discovered that there is a place where all the missing downhills go to hide.  It’s like the mythical elephants’ graveyard where all the missing ivory is located.  Once inside that downhill heaven, you never have to pedal and the pavement is always smooth.  But if you think I’m going to tell you where this bicyclist Shangra-la is located, forget it!

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