Did Scientists Just Find Evidence of a Parallel Universe?

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The Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna was designed to detect high-energy particles hailing from space, not our own planet. NASA/Balloon Program Office

The first time scientists noted strange, high-energy particles bursting from the ice in Antarctica was back in 2006. They figured ANITA was experiencing technical difficulties.

ANITA — short for Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna — is a NASA sensor carried high into the cold air by a weather balloon to detect cosmic rays emanating from space or bouncing back off the ice below.

But these ultra-high-energy particles — a million times more powerful than particles created on Earth — seemed to be coming from deep within the ice below, New Scientist reports.

ANITA must have been glitching pretty hard that day. But then, in 2014, it happened again.

And now, after reviewing the previous data, scientists at the University of Hawaii suggest these particles may hail from a parallel universe — and where another Earth where everything runs backward, including time itself.

Indeed, even the standard law of physics in that universe would run in reverse.

"What we saw is something that looked just like a cosmic ray, as seen in reflection off the ice sheet, but it wasn't reflected," Peter Gorham, the physicist who led the research, tells the University of Hawaii News. "It was as if the cosmic ray had come out of the ice itself. A very strange thing. So we published a paper on that, we just suggested that this was in pretty strong tension with the standard model of physics."

The phenomenon, Gorham adds, "could be an indication of some new type of physics, what we call beyond the standard model of physics."

The particles, called tau neutrinos, normally rain down on our planet from the cosmos. The fact they're blazing outward from our planet not only defies standard physics, but also suggests high up in the Antarctic, there may be an overlap with a kind of bizarro world. But of course, to inhabitants of that world, our version of Earth would be the one that runs in reverse.

"Not everyone was comfortable with the hypothesis," Gorham tells New Scientist.

Gorham's explanation raises the tantalizing possibility that the Big Bang created a second universe alongside our own, a kind of bizarro universe. Further investigation may even prove, at last, that parallel universes exist.

Or, of course, it could really be a technical glitch that somehow keeps repeating itself. As Ibrahim Safa, who also worked on the project, tells the Daily Star, "We're left with the most exciting or most boring possibilities."