Recent headlines on the Internet have been headlined about how scientists in Antarctica have found evidence of a parallel universe where time is running back. While we seriously hope this is true, a new study offers a more realistic explanation. At a remote research station in Antarctica, scientists found two anomalies in experiments. They were looking for cosmic rays, so they naturally focused their attention over the sky. But no one thought they would find two signals coming from below them, spontaneously rushing out of the ground and shooting upward into the sky.
Scientists are understandably confused and have published no less than 40 papers outlining possible explanations. Some argue that these are signs of long-sought dark matter. Others think it’s caused by another elusive hypothetical particle, sterile neutrinos.
These are very bold ideas, but there is a particular idea that these anomalies are evidence of another universe, it is our own mirror, made up of antimatter, and time runs backward. This is not entirely unreasonable, where so-called charge, odd ity, and time reversal are symmetrical. Basically, the idea is that the Big Bang should create two universes, our own universe, and an anti-universe, which, from our point of view, extends back to the Big Bang. Understandably, this exciting theory is sought after by many tabloid media, and of course, this is far from the most plausible or most likely explanation. Now, a new study has come up with a more grounded idea.
The Antarctic Pulse Transient Antenna Experiment is a set of radio antennas attached to high-altitude balloons floating about 23 miles (37 kilometers) above Antarctica. At this isolated height, the project is looking for high-energy cosmic rays and neutrinos from deep space streams. ANITA has been doing this since 2006, but in 2016 and 2018 it received two unexpected signals again, with all the signs of high-energy neutrinos, but they are not from space. They appear to have been shot from beneath the distant Antarctic ice.
Under normal circumstances, neutrinos will not have any problems. They don’t interact much with normal matter, so they can shoot through the whole planet like nothing. But these are high-energy neutrinos, produced in events such as supernovae, and they interact more frequently with matter. They are unlikely to cross the Earth without touching anything, but hit the sensor on the other side. Instead, the researchers say the most likely explanation is that these signals do come from over ANITA after all. They start with high-energy cosmic rays falling from the sky and then reflecting from the snow, bouncing the signal back to ANITA’s sensors.
Study author Ian Shoemak said: “We think that ground-floor compacted snow is the culprit, it is somewhere between snow and ice. It is compacted snow, not dense enough to become ice. So you can have density reversals, there are ranges from high density to low density, and those critical interfaces, which can occur and explain these events. One version of the idea, the team says, is that the signal does not reflect from the compacted snow, but from the sub-glacial lakes.
Whatever ANITA finds, it’s interesting, but it may not be a Nobel prize-winning particle physics discovery, and ANITA may have discovered some unusual small glacial lakes. We’ll think of this as a reflected high-energy particle until there’s some extraordinary evidence to prove the parallel universe.