No, NASA didn’t find a parallel universe where time is running backwards

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Social media is great at spreading rumours, but usually, it’s because most things are open to interpretation… or lazy reading by some journalist. With that we bring some unfortunate news, scientists haven’t actually discovered a parallel universe. But you might think they have based on multiple reports from across the web.

After an experiment in Antarctica by ANITA, which involves an array of radio antennas attached to a helium balloon which flies over the Antarctic ice sheet at 37,000 meters, so that the antennas can “listen” to the cosmos and detect high-energy particles, known as neutrinos, which are constantly flying at our planet. Sounds like some crazy science fiction, but that’s what’s happening!

Just quickly though – these particles pose no threats to us. There are estimates suggest 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. You can’t feel a thing, can you?

So how did this rumour start?

You will have to thank New Scientist for that. Just about all related articles are traced back to an April 8 report in New Scientist, or even a post by New York Post, which describes some exciting research with the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna, or ANITA. However, NASA didn’t really find evidence of a parallel universe, especially one where time ran backwards.

“There are a number of potential candidate particles that could account for the results from ANITA,” says Geraint Lewis, an astrophysicist at the University of Sydney. 

“Whilst parallel universes sound exciting and sexy when discussing the ANITA signal, alternative ideas are still on the table,” Lewis notes.

Lewis isn’t saying that the idea is wrong, but there is a lot of evidence against it.

Peter Gorham, the principal investigator on ANITA, says it’s “some unfortunate tabloid journalism” and notes an early report by the Daily Star “just made some things up about myself and our experiment.” 

Gorham has requested the New York Post remove their made-up version of the story.