New Scientist – Scientists suspect that an entire mirror universe could be present, including mirror galaxies, mirror stars and planets, even mirror life, and this notion is about to be tested. The existence of mirror worlds is suspected because of a flaw in natural symmetry. When an atom decays to create a neutrino, the neutrino always spins left-handedly. In the 1950s, Chen Ning Yang and Tsugn Dao Lee, both Nobel prizewinning physicists, speculated that perfect left-right symmetry would exist if there was a mirror or shadow world.
The existence of mirror matter is suggested by the fact that there is a shortfall in solar neutrino production. The sun emits fewer neutrinos than it should, given the amount of atomic reactions taking place within it. Either the three known types of neutrino–the muon, tau and electron neutrinos–are spontaneously changing into one another as they leave the sun, or there is a fourth type of neutrino. “If neutrinos can oscillate into mirror neutrinos, this can nicely explain the solar and atmospheric neutrino anomalies,” Robert Foot of the Unversity of Melbourne has commented. In 1990, University of Michigan physicists discovered that an ephemeral formof matter, orthopositronium, decayed into photons in a 0.1% shorter time than it should. Last March, the experiment was recalculated by a team at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and the discrepancy was confirmed. In the May 11, 2000 issue of Physics Letters B, Sergei Gninenkoof CERN suggests that the discrepancy can be explained by the existence of a mirror universe. Orthopositronium is thought to be particularly sensitive to the mirror universe because it could oscillate between mirror and ordinary orthopositronium, jumping back and forth through the mirror and resulting in extra “losses” of energy in the visible world, because some of its decay has taken place in the mirror universe.
Gninenko believes that this proposition is testable, and is preparing an experiment at CERN that would confirm it. He intends to enclose orthopositronium in the empty cavity of a calorimeter, which measures total energy change. “If oscillations are occuring, then particles will disappear from our world,” he says. Another means of detection would be to test particles for the small mirror electrical charge that would be present if they are interacting with mirror particles. So far, no such mirror charges have been found.
If it exists, large amounts of mirror matter could be present in the universe. Scientists are trying to find a new kind of matter. 90% of the mass of the universe consists of so-called “dark matter,” which is detectable only by its gravitational pull. If there is a mirror universe, it might explain dark matter and a great deal more. If it exists, it might wellhold mirror stars and planets every bit as evolved as our own, including mirror life. Should some of that mirror life be intelligent, it may be that they are ahead of us in the process of detecting and penetrating their own mirror world–our universe, our skies and our bedrooms.
Thanks to The New Scientist, 17 June 2000.
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