Failure is the handmaiden of wisdom in the scientific world. When we make predictions or build systems based on our theoretical models, we must be prepared for and learn from our failures. Understanding the reason for failure is sometimes even more important than positive results since it may pave the way for far deeper understanding and more precise models of reality. In the scientific enterprise, the freedom to take risk and accept the potential of failure makes the difference between merely incremental refinement and breakthroughs that open new vistas of understanding.
from Vint Cerf’s written testimony for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which was reviewing the federal government’s role in research and development.