Wednesday 26 July 2017

Rosetta mission scientist Dr Matt Taylor cries during apology over 'offensive' shirt

Rosetta scientist Dr Matt Taylor breaks down as he says he made "a big mistake" by wearing a shirt during the mission's live stream featuring cartoon images of women wearing bondage gear and firing guns

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

He helped mankind land on a comet, but Dr Matt Taylor may end up being remembered for his risqué sartorial judgement rather than his scientific acumen.

The space scientist broke down in tears today and apologised for wearing a gaudy shift which featured cartoon images of women wearing bondage gear and firing guns.

During a press briefing this afternoon on the progress of the Rosetta mission, Dr Taylor, the lead scientist, appeared visibly upset and struggled to speak.

Eventually he said: “I made a big mistake and I offended many people and I am very sorry about this."

Dr Matt Taylor wearing the controversial shirt on November 12
Dr Matt Taylor wearing the controversial shirt on November 12

Dr Taylor received a reassuring pat on the back from Andrea Accomazzo, the Rosetta flight operations director, as he went on to describe the current state of the mission.

In recent days the heavily-tattooed London scientist had become a firm favourite with the public for his unlikely appearance and enthusiastic interviews.

But the shirt has divided opinion, with many women in the science community accusing Dr Taylor of sexism.

Astrophysicist Katie Mack said earlier this week "I don't care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn't appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in science"

New York blogger, James DiGioia added: “Technology advances while society remains decidedly retrograde.”

But British astronomer Nick Howes, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society defended Dr Taylor: “Matt is a decent guy, and from time spent with him, no mysoginist.”

However the shirt quickly spawned its own hashtag on Twitter -- #shirtstorm -- as both sexes took Taylor to task.

"No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt," tweeted The Atlantic tech writer Rose Eveleth.

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