Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

The Search For Neutrons That Leak Into Our World From Other Universes 212

KentuckyFC writes: One of the more exciting predictions from "braneworld" theories of high energy physics is that matter can leak out of other universes into our own, and vice versa. The basic idea is that our three-dimensional universe or brane is embedded in a much larger multi-dimensional cosmos. These branes can become coupled so that a quantum particle such as a neutron can exist in a superposition of states in both universes at the same time. When the neutron collides with something, the superposition collapses and the particle must suddenly exist in one brane or the other. That means neutrons from our universe can leak into other branes and then back again. Now physicists are devising an experiment to look for this neutron leakage. They plan to put a well shielded neutron detector next to a shielded nuclear reactor that produces neutrons at a research facility in France. All this shielding means the detector should not see any neutrons from inside the reactor. However, if the neutrons are leaking into another brane and then back into our world, they can bypass this shielding and trigger the detector. The team has not yet set a date for the experiment but the discovery of neutrons (or anything else) leaking into our universe would be huge.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Search For Neutrons That Leak Into Our World From Other Universes

Comments Filter:
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Would this help explain quantum tunneling?

    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      It would kinda go the other direction. If they saw leakage beyond what could be accounted for by quantum tunneling then they might have a positive result.
      • "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!" - the Doctor(s)
        • by genner ( 694963 )

          "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!" - the Doctor(s)

          There's two of us. I'm reversing it, you're reversing it back again. We're confusing the polarity!
          - the other Doctor.

          • Heh, just watched that episode a couple nights ago.

            Now you've got me thinking though - what would neutron flow have to do with a time-tunnel/wormhole/whatever exactly that was. And more to the point, why don't we hear more about chronotons or other more "timey-wimey" particles when The Doctor needs a convenient plotion to keep the dialog flowing?

      • by bigpat ( 158134 )
        Why put the experiment next to a neutron source? Is it just to ensure that the shielding is sufficient to block Neutrons from our Universe? Or calibration? I would think you could pretty much set up the experiment anyplace if you verified the shielding was sufficient and you could do that with any neutron source. Or is there something else?
        • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Znork ( 31774 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @03:18PM (#49000295)

          I think the idea is to have a huge source of neutrons in physical proximity to increase the chances of one leaking into the other universe first so it can leak back on the other side of the shielding.

          • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Mariner28 ( 814350 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @05:00PM (#49001241)

            I think the idea is to have a huge source of neutrons in physical proximity to increase the chances of one leaking into the other universe first so it can leak back on the other side of the shielding.

            I have a big problem with that.

            From TFA: "...the number of neutrons that leak back into our universe from another brane will depend on the distance of the detector from the reactor, where they are created in the first place. This rate should fall with the square of the distance from the reactor. So any distance dependence will be good evidence of brane leakage."

            What? Why should the creation rate fall with the square of the distance? I can understand the inverse square law from the standpoint of neutron emissions from our own universe, but wouldn't entanglement across branes be, by definition, independent of distance?

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Why would you assume there is no distance in the other brane?

            • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Informative)

              by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @06:22PM (#49002003)

              It's not entanglement. There's only one neutron. It sounds like a kind of quantum tunnelling, except across "universes." There are types of tunnelling where distance doesn't have the same effect you might expect, but there are other types where it does.

            • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @06:24PM (#49002015)

              I have a big problem with that.

              What? Why should the creation rate fall with the square of the distance? I can understand the inverse square law from the standpoint of neutron emissions from our own universe, but wouldn't entanglement across branes be, by definition, independent of distance?

              Reading TFA, it seems that the neutrons are coming from reactor and they are bouncing between the branes due to collisions and the affect of our gravitational field. It's long been suspected that gravity reaches across the branes which is why it is so weak compared to the the forces. This is probably an assumption of their experiment if not of the brane theory they are working with. Gravity is the key as what they are really looking for is a change in the rate they detect neutrons with the difference of the gravitational field that goes with the Earths change in distance from the sun due to its orbit. So, they are next to the reactor probably because it will drown out the other source such as neutrons from cosmic rays, but are hoping to see a change in the number of neutrons that related to the distance from the sun while other variables remain the same.

          • Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this mean that the neutrons literally flow across a fourth dimensional axis, and then somehow bounce back after they've moved some distance on one of the other axes, landing in the trap while within our plane of the fourth dimension?

            If so, how are they supposed to spot the neutrons the moment they cross into our brane but before they move into another one? (Unless gravity is so weak in the fourth axis that neutrons tend to prefer to stay in our brane rather than all others,

            • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @07:43PM (#49002683)

              Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this mean that the neutrons literally flow across a fourth dimensional axis, and then somehow bounce back after they've moved some distance on one of the other axes, landing in the trap while within our plane of the fourth dimension?

              Not exactly, the quirk they are testing is effectively the neutron travelling through both "branes" in a superposition state (well, it's actually a bit more subtle than that, but that's the easiest way to explain it).

              If so, how are they supposed to spot the neutrons the moment they cross into our brane but before they move into another one?

              They aren't tracking specific neutrons, they are making a statistical assumption about a collection of neutrons.

              More specifically, by running the experiment multiple times with the neutron source a different distance away from their shielded measurement chamber and at different times of year (to account for different magnetic vector contribution from the sun), they can potentially statistically isolate neutrons detection events that are expected to spontaneously appear (e.g., as a result of cosmic rays originating outside of experimental parameters) from those neutrons that supposedly move in and out of our "brane" as a result of superposition which are sourced locally (whose flux depends on the distance from the source).

              We'll see how it goes. They haven't done the experiment yet...

            • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Informative)

              by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @08:14PM (#49002823)

              No. Basically brane theories posit that our universe is a 4-dimensional "membrane" in a higher-order metaverse (usually with at least 11 dimensions, or was it twelve? The minimum number at which the various QM constants emerge naturally), and that there are probably other 4-dimensional branes in the metaverse as well. They're one of the four main scientifically recognized classes of possible "parallel universes". Picture if you will many sheets of paper floating in a room, each sheet a universe, and if two sheets were close enough together particles could potentially jump back and forth between them.

    • for those cars on the interstate that come out of nowhere.
  • Aha (Score:5, Funny)

    by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @02:50PM (#48999975)
    So that's where my car keys go.
    • Socks too. Jobs. And women.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Socks too. Jobs. And women.

        Actually where socks go has already been well investigated.

        The little known fact is that socks are actually the larval form of hangars, which makes perfect sense, you always find socks missing but check your closet.. and you find that you have many more hangars than you accounted for. Mystery was solved back in 09.

        • by Plunky ( 929104 )

          The little known fact is that socks are actually the larval form of hangars, which makes perfect sense, you always find socks missing but check your closet.. and you find that you have many more hangars than you accounted for. Mystery was solved back in 09.

          More like 99. Thats from Lord Demon [wikipedia.org], by Roger Zelazny.

          • And here I was thinking of "Or All the Seas with Oysters" (1958). But upon checking, that one did pins to hangers to bicycles....
      • "We are the Priests, of the Temples of Syrinx..."

        "One day I feel I'm ahead of the wheel, and the next day it's rollin' over me."

    • “Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the color blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to biro life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended biros would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely biroid lifestyle, responding to highly biro-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the biro equ
      • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )
        I was pretty young when I first read THGTTG and my vocabulary was still developing. Being an American, I had no idea what a "biro" was at the time. The gist of that section went completely over my head. It wasn't until re-reading that book later in life, with a suitably expanded vocabulary, that the true humor came through. Re-reading those books at that point was like reading them anew.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      And it must be where wire hangers come from.

    • I think paper clips leak _out_ of our universe, but coat hangers leak in.

    • So that's where my car keys go.

      If you collect enough neutrons in a box along with some protons and electrons, they may express themselves in the form of a live cat. Or maybe a dead one.

      • Technically, with quantum fluctuations, electron and protons (an their anti particles) may pop in and out at random. It happens more often at quantum levels, but there is nothing saying that, while improbable, it isn't impossible for it to happen at macro levels. All you need to do is wait for your keys to pop into existence, and then snag them before they touch their antikey twin and annihilate each other.
      • Actually all you need is the neutrons - free neutrons are unstable and decay very rapidly into proton/electron pairs (Beta decay). Of course that only gets you a box of hydrogen, and while its technically not impossible it would spontaneously give rise to a cat, you'll probably have to wait for a very, very long time before you even get two of those hydrogen atoms to spontaneously fuse into helium.

  • What if... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ultra64 ( 318705 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @02:51PM (#49000005)

    What if the other brane also has a reactor shield in the same spot?

    • What if the other brane also has a reactor shield in the same spot?

      Don't worry, it's branes all the way down.

    • What if the other brane also has a reactor shield in the same spot?

      Doesn't matter, from my reading of TFA, the true variable is the gravitational field around the Earth from the sun it orbits. Unless there is a similar earth in the same spot with a gravitational field that varies exactly inversely to ours, shielding shouldn't matter.

  • What! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @02:53PM (#49000029)

    We need to build a fence to keep these undocumented neutrons out of our Universe and from taking jobs from our neutrons. # IAmNotAScientist

  • ...in the creation of transparent Aluminum....

    • But we already have that - it's called corundum. Or alternately ruby, sapphire, or padparadscha, depending on color.

      Okay, so technically that's aluminum oxide, only ~53% aluminum by mass, and lacks in strength what it makes up for in hardness, but hey, we've been halfway there since before our ancestors mastered breathing!

  • by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @03:01PM (#49000111)

    Is neutron leakage ruining your day?

    Well, no more! Now with my patented genuine neutron pads neutron leakage will be a thing of the past!

    We use only the purest boron from the banks of Rio Tinto to absorb your stray neutrons*.

    *Neutrons from other universes are not covered by this product. If the neutron flux is higher than the OHSA limits, bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

  • would be even huger. Getting the neutrons will be the easy part :-)
  • They plan to put a well shielded neutron detector next to a shielded nuclear reactor that produces neutrons at a research facility in France. All this shielding means the detector should not see any neutrons from inside the reactor. However, if the neutrons are leaking into another brane and then back into our world, they can bypass this shielding and trigger the detector.

    Seems like the more likely answer is the nuclear reactor isn't as well shielded as they hoped. Besides, how can you have a braneworld if the universe is a simulation [slashdot.org] of a hologram [slashdot.org]?

    • The theory assumes limited interaction between simulations. They're probably using RS-232 cables because that's all the budget would pay for.

  • Doesn't anyone screen these submissions?!

  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @03:22PM (#49000333)

    Have they searched for unexplained sources of neutrons in our brane? I guess that might indicate a nuclear reactor (or something else interesting) one brane over.

    • Who says there is another earth much less a planet in the corresponding other brane?

    • Don't know if they have looked but it stands to reason that if the theory is correct there should be "empty" places in our universe where neutrons spontaneously appear in great numbers, these locations would correspond to neutron stars in the adjacent universe (assuming the other universe has stars). OTOH, I don't know of any reason why we should assume a fixed 1:1 relationship between locations in two adjacent universes.

      Since the Earth is whizzing around the edges of the galaxy it is never in the same l
  • The Gods Themselves (Score:4, Informative)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @03:45PM (#49000545)
  • I am not a theoretical physicist, but a neutron state could exist coupled with a neutron state outside the shielded detector (but within our universe). How do you distinguish that?

  • Somehow it's way more cool to call this 'another universe' than to call this another part of the same universe, isn't it?

    I wonder what the official ISO Linnaeus number is for extreme weakness of physical interaction below which universes are properly botanized.

  • OK, so we have multiple cosmi (space-time continua) embedded in a higher dimensional universe. I'm totally down with that and have written an entire SF novel based on the premise. Those cosmi (as the plural of cosmos) have a coupling. I'm good with that. But that means that "neighboring" cosmi will exist in a coherent bundle, and one will have to get quite distant from "this" brane to find a brane with substantial drift in its general mass distribution.

    This is simple statistical mechanics, by the way -- if most brane-to-brane transitions occur in places where there is chuck of mass in one cosmos and none in another cosmos, there will be steady diffusion from the high mass concentration to the low one. This would lead to egregious and painful violation of mass-energy conservation as my foot in this cosmos diffuses into a vacuum in many, many others, because after all, the mass density of any cosmos at all is nearly zero with a hard, hard vacuum nearly everywhere.

    This is overwhelming evidence that this sort of brane to brane, cosmos to cosmos transition does NOT happen in a universe in which the cosmi are equidistant and randomly organized. The only way that those transitions are possible at all is if there is a metric in the higher dimensional universe and if neighboring cosmi have ALMOST identical mass distributions and if transitions are only likely as pair exchanges between neighboring cosmi (note the requirement for pair exchanges is also a rather hard one or else one would observe a cumulative violation of conservation of mass in random-walk style that would be impossible to miss and that people have looked for, unless the transitions were VERY unlikely, or became very unlikely as a function of the intercosmos metric separation to increasingly different cosmi.

    Note well that these constraints mean that no matter what, they aren't going to "bypass" a shield with a neutron flux, because there are going to be no nearby cosmi/branes in which the shield does not exist.

    Note well in addition the response to those who suggest that this might be a way of viewing tunnelling. It is indeed -- the alternative cosmi are one of the POSSIBLE (I don't say plausible) interpretations of path integral formulations of quantum mechanics, integrated out. But in this case you STILL won't get tunneling through a barrier centimeters thick.

    So this is a pointless experiment. One might as well just look for egregious violations of mass-energy conservation in everyday experiments, because if there is any substantive probability of mass energy departing our own spacetime cosmos and appearing in another "nearby" one, it would happen all the time and all mass concentrations would diffuse out into a multicosmo heat death.

    Gravitation is an excellent possibility as the coupling between branes/cosmi -- one would guess that the "dimpling" of one spacetime dimples all of the neighboring ones on all sides (however many "sides" there are:-). The dimples probably don't have to precisely correspond, but they are likely to have to approximately correspond to minimize almost any sort of coupling across the sheets that permits a transition to occur in the first place.

    rgb

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @06:37PM (#49002153) Homepage Journal

    Gravity should be a stronger force than it is, it's seen as sharing this force between dimensions weakening it in ours.

    A successful outcome of this experiment to me, would help prove my thinking that dark matter is in a different dimension. it's gravity affecting ours.

    Apparently I'm not alone in this thinking as en.wikipedia.org had this listed as a theory, yet not one seemed as a very viable. I thought I had a great brain fart until finding it listed and very lightly at that.

  • The experiment seems to be based on the assumption that a particle leaving and returning our universe would be likely to enter closely to where it left - is this an inevitable part of brane theory, or could the particle come out somewhere else entirely?

Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.

Working...