The Media Got The Math WRONG – The Golden Ratio

15-year old Joseph Rosenfeld thought he spotted an error in the Boston Museum of Science. The exhibit Mathematica has a sign that says the golden ratio is (√5 – 1)/2. He remembered and checked online that the golden ratio is supposed to have a positive symbol, (√5 + 1)/2. He left a note for the museum. Then, the museum publicly declared it was in error and would change the 3 spots where the 34 year old exhibit was wrong. Then the museum did an about stance and said they were correct all along. HUH?

The media went crazy about this story that a “teen spotted an error in museum.” Actually the museum is correct. In this video I’ll explain the central issue: there are two ways of writing the golden ratio.

My blog post explanation:

Boston teen spots error in museum

Mathematician explains the museum is not wrong

Museum tweets out confusing statement that it was correct



Plant (Aeonium tabuliforme)
By Max Ronnersjo
CC BY-SA 3.0

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By Pau, derivative work: silverhammermba (
CC BY-SA 3.0

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