ATLANTA - On a May morning
in 1999, his last day of eighth grade at the Paideia School in Atlanta,
Josh Klehr became a whiz kid.
That morning, math teacher Steve Sigur sent Josh's geometry class to the computer lab to study. Some of the students doodled. Some read.
Josh discovered a mathematical theorem.
Now called the Klehr-Bliss Theorem - co-named for another Atlanta-area student who did follow-up work - the discover as published in a recent issue of the American Mathematical Monthly alongside articles by Ph. D. types.
Quietly polite and self-effacing, Josh, now a Paideia high school sophomore, smirks faintly and says he was "sort of goofing off" when he made his discovery, just playing around with the idea of triangles and perpendicular lines.
He drew a triangle, labeling the midpoints of the three sides with black dots A, B and C. Then he frew perpendicular lines through each of the midpoints until the lines meet at a point inside the triangle, point E.
He knew from his class work that the algebraic formula for perpendicular lines involves the negative reciprocal of a certain number. So he deiced to se what would happen if he didn't make i negative. He did that for each side of the triangle and came up wit three new lines that were not perpendicular but still intersected at a new point inside the triangle.
"Josh's work was most unusual," Sigur said. "I didn't even recognize the point as a known point of a triangle."
Sigur sought the help of Internet discussion groups, as well as other math students he knew in the Atlanta area. That's where Adam Bliss of Norcross cam into the picture. He took Josh's work and helped generalize the formula for wide application. Eventually, a mathematician in the Netherlands used Josh's result in his own work and prepared an article for academic publication.
Josh says his life hasn't changed much since he became a mathematical genius. He still works after school at Ed's IGA supermarket bagging groceries. His friends kid him about "the accident in the computer lab."
He love geometry and says he's interested in a career involving math, computers and solving "visual-structural problems."