The Great Moan Hoax

Although the English polymath John Herschel (1792-1871) is now largely forgotten, he was the best-known scientist of his day. Due to this stature, he appeared unknowingly in a now famous hoax regarding the discovery of life on the moon. These 'lunar observations' were published in 1835 in the newspaper The New York Sun. In order to give credibility to the fabrication, they were falsely (but humoristically) attributed to Herschel. The story describing life on the moon introduces all kinds of non-existing animals, including human-like beings, exotic plants, unlikely buildings and vast lunar landscapes. Herein we reproduce excerpts from the original 1835 text. Using DALL.E, a text-to-image model that can be instructed to produce 'photographs' from selected sentences, we added fictitious images to the hoax.