Breaking: Scientists have 100% proven that parallel universes exist and that there's one out there where time runs backward, whatever that means. So instead of COVID, they've got a Benjamin Button pandemic ... Except scientists didn't actually prove that at all. But you'd be forgiven for thinking they had after way too many publications ran versions of that story declaring something tenuous and not totally understood as absolutely definitive evidence of a wild-ass thing the original researchers never actually claimed.
The study revolved around the movement of high-energy particles called neutrinos. They pass through solid objects all the time and even pass through us trillions of times a second (At least buy us dinner first.). But every so often they collide with something and explode. Researchers study the fallout of these tiny collisions to figure out where in the universe the particles came from. The study that has everyone packing their bags to hop on the first neutrino out of this hellhole of a universe found that neutrinos over the Antarctic ice sheet were moving in a different direction than they usually do. This little change of direction is, in itself, an anomaly that throws our concepts of physics for a loop.
There's this part of a lot of scientific studies where the researchers propose explanations for the unexplainable phenomenon they've observed. Other researchers around the world understand that it's just spit-balling to get everyone's minds churning with possibilities. Tabloid newspapers don't understand that, so they publish the purely theoretical musings as established fact. So, no, the parallel universe idea proposed by the study's authors is by no means a definitive finding. It's just a wild guess, one of many, and all the other scientists reading it understand that. It's like the researcher version of tossing a guess at what's going to happen in the next Marvel movie when a trailer drops.
The unsexy but most likely truth is that neutrinos just start acting weird when they're around ice. Like you in middle school whenever you'd get the farts when you'd talk to your crush. If you need any more proof that the whole thing was misinterpreted by tabloids and blown way out of proportion, here's what the paper's lead author had to say about it all:
Whenever you read a headline about a gigantic scientific discovery that will forever change the course of the human race, just wait a couple of days for the inevitable deluge of articles debunking of the sensationalist headlines before you start rehearsing the ways you'll ask an alternate universe self if they'd be down to clown.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Catch him on the "In Broad Daylight" podcast with Cracked alums Adam Tod Brown and Ian Fortey! Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. Listen to the first episode on Youtube!
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