A French scientist says he's sorry for tweeting out a picture of a slice of chorizo and claiming it was an image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope of a distant star, CNN reports.
Physicist and director at France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Étienne Klein, shared the image to his Twitter account, with the caption, "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."
The post immediately went viral, getting over 14,000 likes and retweets.
But in a series of follow-up tweets, Klein admitted that the image was a closeup shot of a slice of chorizo.
\u201cPhoto de Proxima du Centaure, l\u2019\u00e9toile la plus proche du Soleil, situ\u00e9e \u00e0 4,2 ann\u00e9e-lumi\u00e8re de nous.\nElle a \u00e9t\u00e9 prise par le JWST.\nCe niveau de d\u00e9tails\u2026 Un nouveau monde se d\u00e9voile jour apr\u00e8s jour.\u201d— Etienne KLEIN (@Etienne KLEIN) 1659281624
"Well, when it's cocktail hour, cognitive bias seem to find plenty to enjoy... Beware of it. According to contemporary cosmology, no object related to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere else other than on Earth," he wrote.
When backlash over the deception started to emerge, he explained that the initial tweet was a joke.
"Let's learn to be wary of the arguments from positions of authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images," later adding that his intention was "to urge caution regarding images that seem to speak for themselves."
As CNN points out, the Webb telescope is the most powerful telescope ever launched into space, and it will be able to "peer inside the atmospheres of exoplanets and observe some of the first galaxies created after the universe began by viewing them through infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye."'
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