Linus och Sven Hovmöller
Linus and his dad Sven at the kitchen table. Photo: Xiaodong Zou
 
 

Linus, at the age of just ten-years-old, helped his professor father solve a problem he had wrestled with for eight years, earning himself co-author status on a paper in the latest edition of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.

"I was happy, but I think he was even happier, because I didn't realise how big this was," said Linus to Swedish daily, Svenska Dagbladet.
 
Over the course of a weekend-long brainstorming session, examining patterns on the dining room table, Linus helped identify the structure of four types of approximants, types of “quasi-crystals” which until recently had not been thought to exist.
 
“I had the same data for a long time but by myself I could not get it,” said Professor Hovmöller.
 
“Linus was there without the burden of knowing too much – he has a fresh unspoiled brain. Not keeping too many things in his head at the same time, as I would do, helps a lot.”
 
“Usually I would read bedtime stories to him but then he said one night, why don’t we do Su Doku? And it turned out he was smarter than me. The next day when I was working I thought I would just ask Linus to sit next to me and we worked really long days and managed to solve four of the remaining six structures.”
 
Linus said that helping his father was a lot harder than his school homework, which only took half an hour per week. “My dad just came to me and wanted me to help him so I did,” he said.
 
Nicola Kane, a spokeswoman for the Royal Society told the Times of London: “The paper was submitted to an editorial board and peer-reviewed by scientists working in that field.”
 
While reluctant to say that Linus was the youngest named author in the Royal Society’s 352-year history, she added: “Ten-years-old is very young to be published in a scientific journal and particularly for such a difficult subject.”
 
More information
To read the paper published by the Royal Society visit: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/370/1969/2949.full