NASA finds hyperactive particles in Antarctica — they officially defy all known rules of physics

NASA's ANITA discovers high energy particles in Antartica exploding from the ground, rather than coming in from aboveNASA
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) detected by ‘anomalous’ signals in 2016.
  • Even though scientists have been unable to determine the source, there is no evidence to suggest the presence of a ‘parallel universe’ — let alone one where time runs backwards.
  • The only thing that’s for sure is that the current Standard Model for physics isn’t enough to explain what’s happening in the Antarctic.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) makes a lot of new discoveries, but finding a ‘parallel universe where time runs backwards’ is not one of them. The only thing that’s actually happened is that scientists have found some puzzling results from high-energy particles in the Antarctic that defy our current understanding of physics.

Ibrahim Safa, the lead author of the paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, said, “We looked at these ANITA events and they can't be standard neutrinos. They were probably a result of our imperfect understanding of the Antarctic ice, but there's a chance some new physics phenomenon is responsible.”

However, that doesn’t imply time running backwards or the existence of a parallel universe.

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The mystery of a hyperactive particles
The Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) detected high energy neutrinos exploding out of the ground, rather than bearing down from above back in 2016. However, the observations indicated that they had already traveled through the entire planet.

ANITA at the AntarcticNASA

Many suggestions guided discussion on what could account for perplexing signal, yet all of them were ruled out in another study published in January, earlier this year. “Explaining this signal requires the existence of a topsy-turvy universe created in the same big bang as our own and existing in parallel with it,” said the New Scientist.

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Pizzuto, Safa and the other scientists teamed up to find solve the mystery by rummaging through eight years of data. And, it’s not that a parallel universe isn’t possible. “Other explanations for the anomalous signals — possibly involving exotic physics — need to be considered,” said the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.

However, at the end of the day, the only substantial conclusion to come from studies is that the Standard Model, which encapsulates our current understanding of how neutrinos operate, isn’t comprehensive enough to explain the kind of observations that ANITA made.

“So now, if these events are real and not just due to oddities in the detector, then they could be pointing to physics beyond the Standard Model,” said Alex Pizzuto, one of the other authors of the study.

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All this means is that scientists don’t know where these high-energy particles came from — not that they came from a parallel universe.

What is ANITA and the NASA connection?
Neutrinos — subatomic particles that don’t have an electrical charge and very small mass — are one of the most abundant particles in the universe. Because they have such little interaction with physical matter, they can be very hard to track down.

“It’s commonly said that neutrinos are ‘elusive’ or ‘ghostly’ particles because of their remarkable ability to pass through material without smashing into something,” said Pizzuto.

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Just because they’re difficult to detect, doesn’t mean that scientists aren’t at least going to try. ANITA — which flies a balloon over Antarctica with radio antennae pointed to the ground — is doing just that.

ANITA is the first NASA observatory to look for neutrinos. Hence, the connection to the US space agency.

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