A world-renowned scientist has been forced to apologise after he shared what he claimed was a stunning picture of a star – and turned out to be a slice of chorizo.
Étienne Klein, a celebrated French physicist, shared an image of what he said was Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to Earth. He said the picture had been taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, from which a host of stunning images had been revealed in recent weeks.
“This level of detail...” he wrote. “A new world is revealed day after day.”
At first glance, the image looked legitimate, showing the deep red and swirling white colours of a star. But on closer inspection it was something rather more down-to-Earth: a slice of chorizo against a black background.
About an hour after he first sent the tweet, Dr Klein made clear he had been joking. He quipped that when people got hungry they give in to cognitive biases – and that people should be aware.
“According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth,” he continued.
Hours after the original post, he said he needed to respond to comments that appeared to be suggesting he had been mistaken.
He said the picture had been a “form of amusement” and reminded his followers they should be suspicious both of arguments from authority as well as the convincing nature of such images.
But many followers appeared to believe he had been irresponsible in attempting to trick people.
One noted it was important to be able to trust scientists, precisely to avoid being manipulated by false stories. (Independent News Service)