Remember E = mc2? It’s the one equation that you are allowed to include in your popular-physics book (unless you’re George Gamow, who couldn’t be stopped). Mark gave a nice explanation of why it is true some time back, and I babbled about it some time before that. For a famous equation, it tends to be a bit misunderstood. A profitable way to think about it is to divide both sides by the speed of light squared, giving us m = E/c2, and take this as the definition of what we mean by mass. The mass of some object is just the energy it has in its rest frame — according to special relativity, the energy (not the mass!) will be larger if the object is moving with respect to us, so the mass of an object is essentially the energy intrinsic to its state, rather than that imparted by its motion. Energy is the primary concept, and mass is derived from it. Interestingly, the dark energy that makes up 70% of the energy of the universe doesn’t really have “mass” at all, since it’s not made up of objects (such as particles) that can have a rest frame — it’s a smooth field filling space.
All of which is to say that the mainstream media have let us down again. C. Clairborne Ray, writing in the New York Times, attempts to explain whether a spinning gyroscope weighs more than a stationary one, and answers “The weight stays the same; there is no known physical reason for any change.” Actually, there is! The spinning gyroscope has more energy than the non-spinning one. As a test, we can imagine extracting work from the spinning gyroscope — for example, by hooking it up to a generator — in ways that we couldn’t extract work from the stationary gyroscope. And since it has more energy, it has more mass. And the weight is just the acceleration due to gravity times the mass — so, as long as we weigh our spinning and non-spinning gyroscopes in the same gravitational field, the spinning one will indeed weigh more.
Admittedly, it’s a very tiny difference — the energy will increase by an amount proportional to the speed of the spinning gyroscope, divided by the speed of light, that quantity squared, which is really tiny. Nothing you’re going to measure at home. (I’m guessing it’s never even been measured in any laboratory, but I don’t know for sure.) And the article is correct to emphasize that there is no difference in mass that depends on the direction of spin of the gyroscope — that would violate Lorentz invariance, which is something worth looking for in its own right, but would be a Nobel-worthy discovery for anyone who found it.