For example, it was believed—it was discovered— that motion does not affect the weight of a thing—that if you spin a top and weigh it, and then weigh it when it has stopped, it weighs the same. That is the result of an observation. But you cannot weigh something to the infinitesimal number of decimal places, parts in a billion. But we now understand that a spinning top weighs more than a top which is not spinning by a few parts in less than a billion. If the top spins fast enough so that the speed of the edges approaches 186,000 miles a second, the weight increase is appreciable—but not until then. The first experiments were performed with tops that spun at speeds much lower than 186,000 miles a second. It seemed then that the mass of the top spinning and not spinning was exactly the same, and someone made a guess that the mass never changes. How foolish! What a fool! It is only a guessed law, an extrapolation. Why did he do something so unscientific? There was nothing unscientific about it; it was only uncertain. It would have been unscientific not to guess. It has to be done because the extrapolations are the only things that have any real value. It is only the principle of what you think will happen in a case you have not tried that is worth
knowing about. Knowledge is of no real value if all you can tell me is what happened yesterday. It is necessary to tell what will happen tomorrow if you do something—not only necessary, but fun. Only you must be willing to stick your neck out.
Every scientific law, every scientific principle, every statement of the results of an observation is some kind of a summary which leaves out details, because nothing can be stated precisely. The man simply forgot—he should have stated the law "The mass doesn't change much when the speed isn't too high." The game is to make a specific rule and then see if it will go through the sieve. So the specific guess was that the mass never changes at all. Exciting possibility! It does no harm that it turned out not to be the case. It was only uncertain, and there is no harm in being uncertain. It is better to say something and not be sure than not to say anything at all. It is necessary and true that all of the things we say in science, all of the conclusions, are uncertain,
because they are only conclusions. They are guesses as to what is going to happen, and you cannot know what will happen, because you have not made the most complete experiments-Richard Feynman in one of his lectures on Science, Politics and Religion
And I remembered how silly it is to be smug about one's ignorance.