Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Updated 10/9/2012 @ 23:36

Yokohama - People across the country were pleased to discover the news that Japanese researcher, Shinya Yamanaka, will share the Nobel prize  with the U.K.'s John Gurdon for advancing the fields of medicine and physiology. Gurdon is being honored for his 1962 discovery in cellular biology, while Yamada is being recognized for carrying the Cambridge scientist's work to the next step with groundbreaking research he did at Kyoto University in 2006 and 2007. 

Since the announcement was made, people across the Twitterverse have been all a flutter about a surprising discovery of their own. It's a Twitter account owned by one Shinya Yamanaka (@YamanakaShinya), bearing a photograph with a striking resemblance and listing the exact same academic credentials as the Nobel Prize-winner of the same name. The Twitter account timeline for @YamanakaShinya includes the following three and only tweets:

Aug. 9, 2012 - "I just joined Twitter today. This is my first tweet."

Aug. 29, 2012 - "I just discovered something really big! TBA soon."

Oct. 8, 2012 - "I just got the NOBEL PRIZE!  :)"

 Many say it's a fake account (pointing to the dates of the big discovery, etc. as proof). Claiming it's all a big lie, they insist the tweets are merely an elaborate ruse to fool the unwitting, or that it's perhaps just a good-natured gag.  
I don't know. Maybe it's all legit and Yamanaka is every bit as much a comic genius as he is a scientific wiz. Then again maybe it is a counterfeit account and the little bluebird is just dead wrong here but it still makes me smile all the same. Another often questioned source, Wikipedia, says "a dead bluebird is a symbol of disillusionment, of the loss of innocence..."  That alone may be reason enough to keep this story alive and at nearly 40,000 "retweets" and counting it doesn't look like the bluebird's tweeting will be dying out any time soon.

UPDATE: The Asahi Shimbun reports tonight that they have discovered that the Twitter account owner is indeed a phony and not the Nobel Prize-winning scientist (but don't tell that to the nearly 17,000 followers that the fake Twitter account had amassed over the course of the day).


  1. Interesting "discovery" about Twitter - not everything is what it seems to be. Looks like TVT scooped the Asahi and Mainichi (http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20121010p2a00m0na009000c.html).

  2. Yes Anon you are correct. The bogus twitter account actually had more than 17,000 followers (among whom I assume were many who figured it to be a joke in the first place) when I initially saw it early in the day on Tuesday. By Tuesday night the number of followers had dropped off below 17000 and the last time I looked, I think it had fallen to 15000+. Also the photo of Yamanaka seems to have been removed from the fake Twitter account.