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A scientist’s joke: the astronomical discovery was a slice of chorizo, he apologizes

French scientist Etienne Klein has apologized on Twitter for a hoax passing off a slice of chorizo ​​as a snapshot of the star Proxima Centauri, a move that was meant to ‘encourage caution’ over the fake images circulating on social networks.

He apologizes for his prank

“I come to present my apologies to those whom my prank, which had nothing original, could shock. He simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent on their own,” tweeted Etienne Klein, physicist and philosopher of science, on Wednesday.

“A new world is revealed day after day”

On Sunday, the scientist posted a photo of a slice of chorizo ​​against a black background, claiming it was an image of the closest star to the Sun, taken with the brand new James Webb Space Telescope ( JWST). “Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us. She was taken by the JWST. This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day, ”commented Etienne Klein above the photo in a tweet. His publication, revealed by the online media HuffPost, has had some success on social networks, with 1,334 retweets, 10,000 “likes”.

And deceived many people. “I was surprised by how big it got: I thought the image was going to be immediately detected as fake. And when I saw that a great journalist from BFMTV was ecstatic, and that he risked spreading it, I told him that it was a joke, ”told Etienne Klein to AFP. “I then apologized because obviously some people have the impression of having been taken for chitterlings, which is not the case at all”, pleaded the researcher, also producer of the program “Science en questions” on France Culture.

A joke of scientists

The image of the slice of chorizo ​​is a recurring hoax, used in particular a few years ago to make people believe in the dark side of the Moon. “A hoax has an educational virtue. It says our ability to be duped, questions our relationship to sources… We saw during the Covid that certain isolated scientists could publish untruths without being contradicted”, added Etienne Klein. And to question the fact that his fake image was “much more liked” than the real photos of James Webb he had previously shared on Twitter