A prestigious French scientist tweets a photo of the James Webb telescope… and it turns out to be a slice of sausage

Scientists are, above all, human, and like any human they also make mistakes… or play jokes. It is not clear which of the two options is the good one…

These days we are experiencing a fever for space photos, thanks to the magic of the James Webb telescope. Any new image that pops up, immediately gets retweeted thousands of times… without verifying what we’re tweeting.

According to CNN, the prestigious French physicist Étienne Klein, director of the Commission for Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy of France, retweeted a supposed photo of the star Proxima Centauri a few days ago… which was actually a slice of sausage.

Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years away. It was taken by the James Webb Telescope. This level of detail… A new world is revealed day by day“says the tweet:

Blunder, or a scientist’s joke? Judge for yourself…

Étienne Klein has 92,000 followers on Twitter, so the image was retweeted thousands of times, with hundreds of comments praising the “beauty” and “clarity” of the star’s photo. Until someone started noticing that the photo was a little weird…

After the first suspicions, the physicist admitted that… it was a slice of chorizo ​​on a black background: “Well, when it’s cocktail hour, the cognitive bias seems to find a lot to enjoy… Watch out for it. According to contemporary cosmology, no object related to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere other than Earth“.

But his alleged joke has not pleased many of his followers, who retweeted it trusting his status as a prestigious scientist, nor did other colleagues, who consider it frivolous and childish.

Given the avalanche of criticism, according to CNN, Étienne Klein ended up explaining the issue: “In view of certain comments, I am forced to specify that this tweet showing an alleged image of Proxima Centauri was a joke. Let’s learn to distrust arguments from positions of authority as well as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images”.

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The next day he apologized again, arguing that: “my intention was to ask caution regarding images that seem to speak for themselves“.

Perhaps the joke has not been very appropriate, but Étienne Klein put on the table an important issue that is worth reflecting on: do not take things for granted, just because an authority on the matter says so


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