Some discoveries originate in failures. Lab failures, of course, can lead to serendipitous findings. Observations that fail to meet your expectations create space for a new idea to take hold. Imperfections — small failures — may tell volumes about how something was made or what it is made of. Exposing flaws in a theory inches scientists closer to a better one. Failure forces us to ask hard questions and look for new answers.
Our cover story follows the aftermath of a recent acknowledgment of a major fail: We haven’t yet taken a complete census of all minerals on Earth. Akin to the search to name all living species on the planet (but less of a moving target), a campaign is under way to add to the more than 5,000 known minerals, freelancer Sid Perkins writes in "Digging