French scientist apologises for tweeting picture of slice of sausage as 'space telescope image'text_fields
Étienne Klein, Research Director, The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA, last week shared a Space Telescope image of a 'distant' star on Twitter and gave quite an elaborate description, which many ended up believing.
A red ball of spicy fire with luminous patches glowing menacingly against a black background.
He said it was taken by the James Webb Telescope. "Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us. It was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This level of detail… A new world is unveiled everyday," read his post, roughly translated from French.
Fellow Twitter users marveled at the details of the picture purportedly taken by the telescope, which has thrilled the world with images of distant galaxies going back to the birth of the universe.
But the photo that Klein shared was not that of a star. It was a slice of chorizo, Spanish sausage relished for its bold flavours. The 'joke', however, was not relished so much.
"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. Let us learn to be wary of arguments from authority as much as of the spontaneous eloquence of certain images….," tweeted Klein on August 1.
On Wednesday, he finally apologised, and added that he intended "to urge caution regarding images that seem to speak for themselves." "I come to present my apologies to those whom my hoax, which had nothing original about it, may have shocked," read his tweet, roughly translated from French.
Klein acknowledged that many users had not understood his joke which he said was simply aimed at encouraging us "to be wary of arguments from people in positions of authority as well as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images".
However, at a time when battling fake news is of paramount importance for the scientific community, many Twitter users indicated they were unamused by Klein, director of research at France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and a radio show producer.
On Wednesday, he said sorry to those who were misled.
"I come to present my apologies to those who may have been shocked by my prank, which had nothing original about it," he said, describing the post as a "scientist's joke".
He was shortly back on surer ground posting on Twitter an image of the famous Cartwheel Galaxy taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This time, he assured users, the photo was real.