A noted French scientist has apologized after tweeting a photo of a slice of chorizo claiming it was a deep-space image of a “distant star” snapped by the James Webb Space Telescope.
Étienne Klein, a physicist and research director at France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, shared the spicy Spanish sausage shot on social media last week, applauding the “level of detail” it provided.
“Picture of Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years away from us. It was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. This level of detail… A new world is unveiled everyday,” he posted on Twitter Sunday – to his more than 91,000 followers.
Images from the $10 billion telescope – launched Dec. 25, 2021 – went viral throughout July as its first images were released to the public. The scientific marvel, a joint project involving NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency, has already traveled 1 million miles through space.
A few days after his post, Klein revealed the photo he tweeted was not from the world’s most powerful space telescope. Instead, he admitted he tweeted a slice of the reddish speckled meat.
“When it’s time for the aperitif, cognitive biases seem to have a field day… beware, then, of them,” he played off in further tweets. “According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth.”
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“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,” he wrote as translated by Google .
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.