Cheapest scientific material ever!

Quan-Hoang Vuong, AISDL

March 4, 2023

This is an old story from 2022, but every time reading it again still makes me explode with laughter.

According to a CNN report [1], renowned French physicist, Étienne Klein, shared some scientific information with his nearly hundred thousand followers on Twitter as follows.

“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.”

This astrophysicist was clearly praising the valuable image provided by the famous, and hideously expensive James Webb space telescope. The mentioned scientific material introduced to the community is the image below.

Figure. The space photo presented by Étienne Klein [1].

Modern science is becoming increasingly expensive, and the amount of investment is enormous [2]. It is a major concern of even rich countries and not just a problem of developing countries, as discussed in a Nature Human Behavior article [3].

However, the funny thing is that Étienne Klein was actually playing a prank. He wanted to tell the fake aficionados in their pursuit of “glorious science” that the universe is not just some ecstatic pictures.

The “space” image, which many thousands of people had praised, was, in fact, the cheapest “scientific material” ever seen. Étienne Klein cut a slice of chorizo (a kind of Spanish pork sausage) and took a photo of it on a black background. That was all!

This chorizo slice was enough to make many science devotees marvel at the greatness of advanced science.

The French have good humor. And French scientists are no exception.


[1] Owoseje T. (2022, Aug. 7). Top scientist admits ‘space telescope image’ was actually a slice of chorizo.

[2] Shkliarevsky G. (2019, Mar. 12). The Cost of Science.

[3] Vuong QH. (2018). The (ir)rational consideration of the cost of science in transition economies. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(1), 5.

tags:   cost of science