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An old news story was recently misinterpreted to cause confusion as to whether there really is a parallel universe.

The news storm began on May 17 of this year with a publication by the Daily Star, a website which is part of a British media conglomerate belonging to the company Reach PLC that is listed on the London Stock Exchange. “NASA scientists have detected evidence of a parallel universe,” said a story that spread like wildfire. The information was based on research performed by the University of Hawaii two years ago.

However, Bernardo Cervantes Sodi, an astrophysicist from the UNAM Institute of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics Morelia Campus, explains that a parallel universe which is “crashing into” or interfering with our own has not been proven to exist.

After the spread of this story about a supposed parallel universe, the University of Hawii also spoke up to deny the information. It explained that this was actually an observation led by physics professor Peter Gorham, who discovered that “some cosmic-ray events observed in Antarctica have characteristics that are in tension with the standard model of particle physics.”

Gorham announced his observation on December 10, 2018 through the UH news site, and the story had received 834 hits prior to the British publication and its spread to other media. From May 19 to 21, his story had 8,408 hits.

What really happened?

Through the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA), a project sponsored by NASA, Gorham and his team discovered that some Antarctic particles do not fit the standard model of physics.

ANITA, a stratospheric balloon payload flying over the Antarctic, detects cosmic-rays through radio-wave signals. What normally happens is that the wave come down through the atmosphere or reach the antenna after bouncing off the ice. However, between 2006 and 2014, “ANITA detected a fountain of high-energy particles erupting from the ice that resembles an upside-down cosmic-ray shower.”

After discussing it with other scientists, Gorham said that it could be an unusual phenomenon, “it could indicate that we’re actually seeing a new class of sub-atomic particle that’s very penetrating.”

“This tension means that what we know at the moment cannot describe the observation made, (but) it doesn’t mean that it has to be something very exotic. There are many hypotheses to describe something like what was observed then by the ANITA project,” says René Ortega Minakata, science communicator and astrophysicist from the Institute of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics.

The dream of a parallel universe

Sci-Fi movies allow actors to travel through fantastic worlds, be transported at the speed of light, and explore distant planets, which are the product of the imagination of some extremely creative writers. However, the reality is that there is no evidence of any parallel universes at the moment.

“The existence of parallel universes is a very speculative idea. It comes from the 1950s and has been suggested by different perspectives, such as quantum mechanics (to explain certain phenomena) and independently by string theory,” Gerardo Herrera Corral, doctor of science and associate researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), explains to Tec Review.

Herrera rejects publications that take the existence of a parallel universe for granted, as there is no way to demonstrate that premise at present. Other studies also seeking answers about other universes are those that have been performed on background radiation, i.e. the light residue remaining after the explosion that created this universe.

“Roger Penrose is a very prestigious physicist and mathematician who suggested the idea of a cyclical universe, and he calls this cyclical cosmology. He suggests the possibility that our universe is in fact the result of a bounce back: a universe that collapses, bounces back, and appears again. He suggests the possibility that there was a universe before our own,” says Herrera.

The astrophysicists from the Institute of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics concur that this is an approximation, as background cosmic radiation has been studied to know more about the origin of the universe, although not about a universe that exists alongside our own.

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