“It has been a mistake. We pledge to withdraw all copies still in circulation end shred them. We will reprint the book without this problem in it”. Thus, with apologies from Pearson-Linx, the publisher of the book, ends the story about the physics problem which asked students to calculate how to center a car with a stone thrown from an overpass.
The accused text book, which remained “mysterious” for days, is The reality and the models of physics, written by James S. Walker, physics Professor at the University of Wisconsin. The Italian text is an adaptation, in which – explained by the publisher – the problems are written by employees.
“We understand that the choice of the example is very unfortunate – Pearson writes in a note – and we are sorry about this mistake which occurred while preparing the last Italian version and which nobody had noticed despite the revisions. We are sorry if the problem has hurt the feelings of people who are victims of criminal incidents, to which the given exercise has no connection.”
In the immediate future, recites the press release, the publishing house has already “taken measures to amend the mistake. The exercise has been replaced in the digital edition of the manual that will be available online by the beginning of the next week”. Besides, “the printing of the volume was blocked and copies in stock are currently being shredded.” In the meantime, everything has been prepared to “reprint the text book with the correct page. It will be made available in the next few days through the national bookstore channel”. Finally, Pearson is ready “to replace the copies which are already in circulation with the reprinted correct version for all those who are going to ask for it’’.
Maria Rosa Berdini, sister to Maria Letizia – who was killed in 1996, at the age of 31, by a stone thrown from the overpass Tortona on the A-21 Piacenza-Turin by four young people, while she was in her car together with her husband, whom she married only six months earlier – was shocked by the problem in the high-school text book.
Now arrive official apologies and the withdrawal of the incriminated books. The problem number 53 on page 216 was finally resolved.