Scientist Admits His “Distant Star” Photo Is Actually Just a Slice of Chorizo

Since the James Webb Space Telescope has started releasing images, the world has been on edge, waiting to see what it will capture next. So, on July 31, when French scientist Etienne Klein tweeted a new image from the telescope, the internet went wild with excitement. Described by Klein as a photo of the Proxima Centauri, it was retweeted thousands of times by people excited to see a new view of the universe. The only problem—the “Proxima Centauri” was just a piece of chorizo.

That's right, Klein had simply tweeted a photo of the delicious pork sausage, labeling it a photo from JWST, and a good portion of Twitter actually believed him. The research director of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission then had to step in and, on August 3, admit that the photo was just an image of a snack from his charcuterie board and not, in fact, outer space.

“I feel compelled to clarify that this tweet showing an alleged snapshot of Proxima Centauri was a form of amusement,” he wrote below the original Tweet. “Let's learn to be wary of arguments from authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images. According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth.”

Some of his followers were quite angry, having believed that the image was real. Others, instead, had caught on immediately and applauded the funny joke. For his part, Klein calls it a simple “scientist's joke” and points out that this is a warning for people to be more cautious about taking what they see online as fact.

“This is the first time I've made a joke when I'm more on this network as a figure of scientific authority,” Klein told French publication Le Point. “The good news is that some immediately understood the deception, but it also took two tweets to clarify. It also illustrates the fact that on this type of social network, fake news is always more successful than real news.”

So, the next time you see an image online, study it closely and look to the main authority on the subject to see if it's real. In this case, a quick look at the JWST website or Twitter would reveal that no such image taken by the revolutionary telescope actually exists.

If you are craving more JWST imagery, do check out the recently released photos of several different spiral galaxies.

A French scientist had to issue an apology after tweeting a photo of chorizo and stating that it was an image from the James Webb space telescope.

His original tweet was shared thousands of times in just a few days before he revealed the joke.

h/t: [PetaPixel]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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