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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 15:10 GMT
Boy brings encyclopaedia to book
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News education reporter

Lucian George
Lucian found five facts he thought were wrong
A schoolboy has uncovered several mistakes in the latest edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica - regarded by readers as an authority on everything.

Lucian George, 12, from north London, found five errors on two of his favourite subjects - central Europe and wildlife - and wrote to complain.

The book's editor wrote back thanking him for "pointing out several errors and misleading statements".

A Britannica spokesman said the company was "grateful".

He was right, all right

Lucian, who attends Highgate Junior School, spends several hours a week reading through the encyclopaedia's 32 volumes.

One evening, he discovered a reference stating that the town of Chotyn, in which two battles between the Poles and the Ottoman Empire were fought, lies in Moldova.

Lucian, whose mother is Polish, disagreed, saying it was in Ukraine.

He was right.

His father, Gabriel George, told BBC News: "Lucian told me he had found a mistake. Then, a few days later, he found another. Then there was another.

"By the time he had found five, I said to him that he should write to the editors to complain about it."

'Major revision'

Lucian disputed the whereabouts of the Polish part of the Belovezhskaya Forest.

According to the encyclopaedia, it lies in the Bialystok, Suwalki and Lomza provinces.

But Suwalki and Lomza provinces have not existed since 1998.

And, even when they did, the whole Polish section of the forest - which extends into Belarus - was in Bialystok.

The other night we had an argument about the depth of the English Channel and all the facts were there
Gabriel George, father

Another of Lucian's bugbears was the terrain of the European bison.

He argued successfully that it encompassed parts of Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovakia and Belarus - not just Poland.

After Lucian had written to the encyclopaedia with his complaints, senior editor Anita Wolff, based in the US, revealed that a geography specialist was working on a "major revision" of its Polish coverage.

Gabriel, who works as a publishing editor, was not surprised by his son's discoveries.

He said: "I know how easy it is to make mistakes. Hopefully they can be corrected.

"The encyclopaedia cost me 700 [$1,320] and it's nice to know you can rely on it.

"It's a huge work and is full of fascinating information on virtually everything. The other night we had an argument about the depth of the English Channel and all the facts were there."

While Lucian, who spends summer holidays in Poland, sounds like a nightmare quiz opponent, Gabriel is keen to stress he is just like any other schoolboy.

He said: "I've had to stop him watching EastEnders too much and he spends his time mucking about in the park and playing on the PlayStation.

"But it's good to have an inquiring mind and he's done well."

Britannica spokesman Tom Panelas said: "For a 12-year-old, Lucian has a keen eye and we are grateful for his help.

"We are always grateful to any reader who brings mistakes to our attention."

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