A porky prank has cooked up some laughs, confusion, and annoyance over on Twitter.
Amid the outpour of stunning new images coming from the JWST, prominent French physicist Étienne Klein tweeted an image vibrant red circle lit up against a stark black background. Klein, who is currently the director at France's Atomic Energy Commission, claimed it was a new image taken by JWST showing Proxima Centauri.
“Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us. She was taken by the JWST,” Klein tweeted. “This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day.”
He later revealed that the image was not actually from the JWST and was, in fact, just a slice of Spanish chorizo.
While receiving some flack for the joke, he suggested that his post was an attempt to challenge peoples’ preconceptions and cognitive biases.
“Well, when it's time for the aperitif, cognitive biases seem to have a field day… Beware, then, of them. According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth,” he added.
However, not everyone saw the funny side of his critical thinking lesson. Given Klein’s credentials, many people didn’t realize it was a joke and blindly shared the image, leading some to slander him as a peddler of misinformation and fake news.
Klein apologized for the prank, and despite the image quite clearly showing a slice of sausage, describing it as a “scientist's joke.”
A few days later, Klein’s busy fingers were back on Twitter and he decided to tweet a gorgeous JWST image of the coral-red Cartwheel galaxy some 500 million light-years from us. This time, he promised the photo was the real deal and not a cylindrical pork product.