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Space Science

Missing Matter, Parallel Universes? 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the cosmic-whodunnit dept.
Phoghat writes "Could mirror universes or parallel worlds account for dark matter — the 'missing' matter in the Universe? In what seems to be mixing of science and science fiction, a new paper by a team of theoretical physicists hypothesizes the existence of mirror particles as a possible candidate for dark matter. An anomaly observed in the behavior of ordinary particles that appear to oscillate in and out of existence could be from a 'hypothetical parallel world consisting of mirror particles,' says a press release from Springer. 'Each neutron would have the ability to transition into its invisible mirror twin, and back, oscillating from one world to the other.'"
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Missing Matter, Parallel Universes?

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  • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:02PM (#40377303) Journal

    Baryonic matter ("normal" matter from our perspective) is the minority.

    WE are the Goatee Universe.

  • Re:Mirror Mirror (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jhon (241832) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:03PM (#40377311) Homepage Journal

    I sometimes forget... I'm the evil twin. Gotta go find the "good" version of me and get rid of him.

  • Testability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:21PM (#40377567)

    If the facts don't line up with your theory, a normal person would say the facts are wrong or the theory is wrong (measurements and models, in this case). But cosmologists just invent outlandish theories and particles that can't be proven or disproven.

    You mostly have that backwards. "Normal people" invent outlandish untestable explanations -- often with reference to supernatural intelligences -- for unexplained phenomena all the time, whereas the "mirror particle" hypothesis makes quite specific, testable predictions (and specific tests are recommended in the paper.)

    I think I'll go with the incorrect measurements, again.

    Dismissive assumptions are so much more scientific than actual testing.

  • Occam's razor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slasho81 (455509) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:25PM (#40377617)
    My keys seem to be missing. I can't find them anywhere! Could they be in a parallel universe? They could, but it's far more likely I'm just too stupid to figure out where they are.
  • Re:My own theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demachina (71715) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:59PM (#40378079)

    I'm guessing the people who thought relativity and quantuam mechanics were bupkis probably used similar lines of reasoning.

    You might want to try reading Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe" [amazon.com]. It a fairly approachable book on superstring theory and hidden dimensions for laymen.

    The theories are very elegant and well thought out but are inherently difficult to prove since the sizes of the things that need to be seen are so small that they are currently unseeable, or energies required are so huge we can't produce them, so there is currently no way to experimentally prove the theories. The main superstring theories suggest 10, 11 or 26 dimensions of which we can actually see only four.

    No one is advocating embracing superstring theory, hidden dimensions or multiverses as fact, since even their advocates know they are only theories, but neither should they be discarded as "bupkis" until they are disproved since they may be a way forward in understanding and resolving unresolved conflicts in quantum mechanics in particular. They are regrettably as difficult to disprove as they are to prove.

    I'm of the opinion if smart people want to keep thinking about these things they probably should. Just because they are very hard problems doesn't mean they should be given up on. If smart people like the people that wrote this paper can figure out novel ways to test these hard problems, more power to them.

  • by FrootLoops (1817694) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:26PM (#40378359)

    Yes and no. Your link refers to mirror matter based only on parity symmetry while I believe the paper at hand is more general. The arXiv preprint [arxiv.org] discusses this at the start:

    Concerns about parity are irrelevant for our following discussions: they extend to a parallel sector (or sectors) of any chirality. Nevertheless, in the following we shall name the twin particles from the `primed' parallel sector as mirror particles.

    To set things up, imagine stepping through a mirror and doing some physics experiments. You would expect everything to work out the same as before so long as "left" and "right" were reversed (...along the axis normal to the mirror...). That turns out not to be the case, which was surprising--some decades ago a few experiments with relatively exotic particles didn't work out as expected (brief history here [wikipedia.org]). Thus matter "through the mirror" and "before the mirror" are distinguishable. It's possible that matter through the mirror exists in our before-the-mirror universe, though it shouldn't interact much with the matter we're used to because the force-carrying particles need to be mirrored as well which ends up leaving only gravitational interactions. As you may have guessed, this is a potential candidate for dark matter. The lack of electromagnetic interactions would prevent distant mirror matter from being seen, and the lack of strong or weak interactions would nix many lab tests (like those that detect neutrinos, which are detected by their weak interactions).

    My (poor) understanding of the paper is that they consider an essentially arbitrary parallel universe with wimpy interactions with our own universe (except gravitationally), not necessarily just one created by parity changes. In particular they focus on transitions of neutrons from our universe to the parallel one and use such transitions to explain an anomalous dependence on magnetic field direction in a previous experiment.

    As usual, caution is the best plan. The authors call for more experiments, and I'm sure there are numerous explanations for their results that don't require (IMO) spooky transitions between parallel universes.

  • by grantspassalan (2531078) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:26PM (#40379585)

    Is it possible that dark matter, dark energy, black holes and the Oort cloud don't exist at all, but are fanciful constructs that are required to explain certain observations according to currently “accepted” cosmological theories? There is a theory based upon known laws of electricity, that can explain the all observations without resorting to these esoteric constructs, which are nothing more than mathematical fiction. When the accepted picture of the universe put the Earth at the center, it also took fanciful models to account for the limited observations that were possible before telescopes were invented. When increasing technological ability made many observations and measurements of the solar system, the stars and eventually the galaxies, it was finally necessary to discard the old earth centric cosmology. In the same way, modern instruments have brought back a lot of results that are “puzzling” the scientists adhering to the present accepted view of the gravitational universe model. Interpreting these results by postulating that electricity and magnetism are the dominant forces, rather than gravity, the picture of the universe becomes much more coherent. Far out stuff like parallel universes and other exotic explanations are no longer necessary, but many PhD theses and science funding will have to be re-done. A fundamental paradigm shift of our view of the universe is necessary.

I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

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