The Antarctic Project detected high-energy neutrinos that supposedly passed through the Earth. This should be impossible. Some say it may be proof of a parallel universe.
Stunning news appeared in many of the world's media. Scientists from NASA discovered a parallel universe in which time flows in the opposite direction. But, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Which we don't have at the moment.
First of all, this was not a discovery of NASA but an observatory with a great name – Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA). This project is run by several universities and institutions led by the University of Hawaii. NASA helps to finance the project but so does – for example – the American DOE and others.
As you might have guessed from the name of the project, we will have to travel to the frigid lands of the Antarctic. Here, scientists are trying to research neutrinos – one of the most fascinating particles in the Universe.
Neutrinos can pass through not only the human body but through the whole Earth. They get created in the depths of the Earth, in stars, in nuclear power plants, or extreme cosmic events such as supernova explosions. And they really do not like to interact with the rest of the matter in the Universe. And if it happens, the traces these interactions leave behind are the only things that allow us to study neutrinos.
ANITA focuses on hunting down extremely energetic neutrinos that are the result of the interaction between cosmic rays with photons of the cosmic microwave background. The key part of the project are the antennas. These antennas are suspended on a balcony 37 kilometers above the surface of Antarctica. Their goal is to detect radio-waves that get created when an extremely energetic neutrino hits the ice. This is called the Askaryan Effect.
Over the years, many neutrinos were detected. But only a small number of them originate from cosmic processes. Particles with a very high energy such as protons and neutrons get into our atmosphere and create a cascade of other particles. This is something that scientists know very well. But. Now, ANITA detected two of these strange particle sprays. Instead of the particle cascade moving down it was moving up.
This might not sound that surprising. Maybe these just were particles that came from the North. They passed through the Earth. But, cosmic rays aren't capable of this though neutrinos are. But the real problem lies in the fact that neutrinos that can pass through planets have relatively low energies. The higher the energy of the neutrino the less mass it can pass through without interacting. Thus, the neutrinos that can get detected by ANITA cannot pass through the Earth.
A possibility of a giant spray of high-energy neutrinos hitting the Earth and thus a small part of them passing through the Earth exists. But it is unlikely. Other projects such as IceCube are also hunting down neutrinos and those projects would certainly detect them.
This leaves us with a good number of sexy alternative options. Options such as dark matter, parallel universes, etc. But in the case of neutrinos we should always be skeptical to the max. You might remember not that long ago scientists “discovered” neutrinos that traveled faster than the speed of light, yet that was quickly disproved. So, the high-energy neutrino might have a simple explanation behind them.
- If you like the content I’m producing about science maybe you will like the content I produce about gaming as well! Be sure to check out my other posts!