Schoolboy corrects mistake in equation at Boston's Museum of Science

15-year-old Joseph Rosenfeld spotted that there were minus signs where there should have been plus signs

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A 15-year-old secondary school pupil corrected a mistake “which had been there for a very long time” in an equation at Boston’s venerable Museum of Science.

Joseph Rosenfeld was on a family visit when he spotted the error in the Golden Ratio, which formed part of the museum’s 35-year-old Mathematica exhibit - more than double his age.

The teenager spotted that there were minus signs in the equation where there should have been plus signs.

“At first, I wasn’t sure,” he told “I thought maybe I had it wrong, but I was excited.”

But the confident youngster left a message at the museum’s front desk informing them of the error in the Golden Ratio which is found when a line is divided into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part.

He later received a letter from the museum's exhibit content developer, Alana Parkes, informing him the equation would be corrected.

Unusually she said the exhibition is considered an artefact so decisions about changing it required consent from a number of people, adding “most things can’t be changed at all.”


“It also means that this mistake has been there for a very long time,” she said, although on this occasion the museum would change the equation.

“I was just really excited that I found an error,” Rosenfeld said. “That doesn’t happen every day.”

In a separate statement the Museum commended the youngster for his keen eye, but said the way they present “the Golden Ration in its exhibit is in fact the less common - but no less accurate - way to present it.”