Last week, I found the image pictured to the right on Enno Park’s Google+ feed and thought it was amusing, so I decided to post it here on the Accordion Guy blog. I ran a few image searches to see if I could trace it back to its origin, but couldn’t find anything conclusive, so I gave credit to Enno Park.
This week, the pop science Facebook page I Fucking Love Science featured the image (they found it via another Facebook pop science page, ASAPScience) and pointed to this site — but not the article — so I re-posted the image in a new article that you’d see when you hit the page. Once again, credit went to Enno Park.
(Please don’t bring internet pitchforks and torches to Enno’s feed; I get the feeling he didn’t know about the image’s provenance either.)
In tweets linking to my post, I suggested that you imagine the joke being told in astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s voice. What I didn’t know is who its true author was, and that she herself is an astrophysicist. She’s Katie Mack, @AstroKatie on Twitter.
Here’s her short bio, as featured on her site (go check it out, she’s got lots of great stuff there, for both hard-core science fiends and laypeople who are curious about space):
Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales. Throughout her career as a researcher at Caltech, Princeton, Cambridge, and now Melbourne University, she has studied dark matter, black holes, cosmic strings, and the formation of the first galaxies in the Universe. Katie is also an active online science communicator and is passionate about science outreach. As a science writer, she has been published by Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time.com, the Economist tech blog “Babbage”, and other popular publications.
She told the joke quickly and simply, using emojis, and eagle-eyed readers noticed that she even took care to make sure that the bright side of the moon was always facing the sun. That bit of cleverness didn’t get brought into the image based on her tweet.
While I slept last night (I’m in the GMT-4 time zone, known as “Eastern Daylight Time” to people in North America), a number of people pointed out my unintentional plagiarism on Twitter and in this blog’s comments. I’d like to thank those people for the heads-up, and would like to point out that my failure to reply immediately was largely because I was asleep at the time. Thanks for the heads-up, folks!
The creator of the image I used didn’t credit Katie, and as a result, neither did I. I’d like to borrow from the best scientific tradition and do what scientists do when they make mistakes: point out the mistake clearly and as widely as possible. I formally apologize to Katie Mack for not crediting her for an excellent astronomy gag, and hope this post goes toward making things right.