A prominent French physicist has been forced to apologize for a photograph he says came from NASA’s new space telescope, but was actually a piece of chorizo.
Etienne Klein, renowned philosopher and director of research at the French Atomic Energy Commission, informed his supporters that “no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth”.
He had posted a tweet last Sunday that he claimed was the latest stunning photograph from the state-of-the-art James Webb Space Telescope of the star Proxima Centauri.
The photograph purports to show a raging red ball of cosmic energy, pockmarked by glowing solar storms rolling across the surface of the nearby star.
“Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us,” Klein tweeted.
“She was taken away by the JWST. This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day.’
This is the photo that Etienne Klein, renowned physicist, philosopher and director of research at the French Atomic Energy Commission, posted on Twitter claiming – jokingly – that it was the last amazing photograph of the telescope. spacecraft peak James Webb of the star Proxima Centauri
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory took this photo of our sun on January 8, 2022
Etienne Klein, renowned philosopher and director of research at the Atomic Energy Commission
The photograph looked like famous portraits of the sun taken by the European Space Agency’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), which captures detailed solar storms on our star’s surface from a distance of 75 million miles.
Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth, lies 5.9 trillion kilometers away.
While most Twitter users were able to recognize that the photo posted by the eminent physicist was actually a slice of Spanish sausage, others were more gullible.
“Last Proxima Centauri photo was this,” one user said, posting a photo of a distant star. “It’s a huge step forward.”
“Can’t tell if it’s stuffing or really proxima resembling chorizo,” another wrote.
However, Twitter user Ned Boeuf was not fooled. “Wrong, it’s a slice of chorizo.”
Then the Twitter backlash began.
“Coming from a scientific research director, it is completely inappropriate to share this kind of thing without specifying from the 1st tweet that it is false information when you know the speed at which false information spreads. “, an indignant response.
A Twitter user impressed by the huge step forward in space telescoping that the JWST represented
This user was more skeptical but still undecided whether this was a joke or serious
However, not everyone was fooled
The backlash began with users accusing Klein of spreading misinformation
“Indeed, there has been a loss of resolution which makes the joke more believable and therefore more toxic!” writes another.
Klein acknowledged that many users misunderstood his joke, which he said was simply meant to encourage people to question and not automatically accept “eloquent images” of people in positions of authority.
On Wednesday, he wrote his apology.
“In view of some comments, I feel compelled to clarify that this tweet showing an alleged snapshot of Proxima Centauri was a form of amusement,” he tweeted to his 89,200 followers.
“Let us learn to distrust arguments from authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images….”
“Well, when it’s happy hour, cognitive biases seem to have a blast…
Elon Musk posted this meme last month mocking JWST astronomy photos
‘So beware of them. According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to the Spanish delicatessen exists anywhere but on Earth.
“I come to apologize to those who may have been offended by my prank, which was not original,” he said, calling the message a “scientist joke”.
Before that, he had posted the James Webb Space Telescope’s capture of the Chariot Wheel galaxy and its companion galaxies (“REAL this time”).
“Located 500 million light-years away, it may have been spiraling in its past, but took on this strange appearance following a furious galactic pile-up.”
Last month, Elon Musk posted a meme poking fun at JWST, comparing a kitchen’s granite slab with a visual of outer space, in a light-hearted joke targeting NASA.