Error in golden ratio at exhibit? Boston museum now says it’s right

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The museum had initially written 15-year-old Virginia high school student Joseph Rosenfeld a letter acknowledging the error and saying it would be fixed. He noticed the minus signs June 4 on a family visit to the museum. Photo courtesy of Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star.

BOSTON — A Boston science museum that praised a teenager for catching a mistake in the golden ratio at a decades-old exhibit now says it wasn’t an error after all.

The Museum of Science released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the equation in the 34-year-old “Mathematica exhibit” with minus signs instead of plus signs is actually the “less common — but no less accurate — way to present it.”

The museum had initially written 15-year-old Virginia high school student Joseph Rosenfeld a letter acknowledging the error and saying it would be fixed. He noticed the minus signs June 4 on a family visit to the museum.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus Arthur Mattuck tells the Boston Globe that the two formulas are equal. He says Joseph presented the fraction upside-down.

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