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What is the full text (and possibly the source) of the summary of the 3 laws of thermodynamics that goes something along the lines of "Can't break even, can't win and can't even stop playing the game"?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This comes from the pioneering work of amateur physicist, Michael Jackson:

You can't win,
You can't break even,
And you can't get out of the game.
People keep sayin',
Things are gonna change.
But they just look like
They're stayin' the same

-Michael Jackson, "You Can't Win"

Okay, okay. I think this is one of those jokes that starts between graduate students or something by the water cooler, so it doesn't have an "exact" form. Wikiquotes gives the original author as C.P. Snow in the following form:

Zeroth: "You must play the game."
First: "You can't win."
Second: "You can't break even."
Third: "You can't quit the game."

But that seems somewhat dubious. No one can provide a cite of C.P. Snow actually saying or writing it anywhere; I suspect that this history is a little mythical and that the joke has no real precise statement.

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