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In Science, And In Life, ‘Once A Failure’ Does Not Mean ‘Always A Failure’

10 Aug 2018, 14:01 UTC
In Science, And In Life, ‘Once A Failure’ Does Not Mean ‘Always A Failure’
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John Couch Adams was best known, in the astronomical world, as the man who tried-and-failed to discover Neptune, getting scooped by Galle and Le Verrier in 1846. But his failure to discover Neptune in no way inhibited his future success, and his ultimate legacy as a scientist. (PUBLIC DOMAIN)The story of John Couch Adams, “the man who failed to discover Neptune,” and his cosmic redemption.Perhaps its human nature to want to only think positive thoughts about our heroes. We don’t want our sports heroes to cheat or use performance-enhancing drugs. We don’t want our humanitarian or political heroes to be involved with sordid scandals or criminal activity. And we don’t want our scientific heroes to commit the greatest of all scientific sins: the sin of having been wrong.But science is not an endeavor one undertakes all by themselves, but rather as part of a worldwide community. And being wrong is not a death sentence, but rather is often a stepping-stone to an even greater success. “Once a failure, always a failure” couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that even our greatest scientific heroes had their flaws, some of history’s greatest failures were followed by a success that ...

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