Have scientists found evidence of a parallel universe?

"Unusual claims like evidence for alternate universes require a very high burden of proof," cosmologist Ranga-Ram Chary writes in the new study.
By Brooks Hays   |   Updated Nov. 4, 2015 at 2:57 PM

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Caltech cosmologist Ranga-Ram Chary thinks he may have found evidence of a parallel universe.

In a new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, Chary suggests cosmic bruising -- one universe bumping up against another universe -- could explain an anomaly he found in the map of the cosmic microwave background.

The cosmic microwave background is the light left over from the mess of the newly born universe, the ancient shrapnel of the Big Bang. Chary developed a cosmic microwave background map using data from the European Space Agency's Planck telescope. When he compared it with a map of the entire night sky, he found an unexplained blob of bright light.

The cosmic background features bursts of ancient light, revealing the radiation signatures of the universe just a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. This ancient light is the result of recombination, when electrons and protons first teamed up to create hydrogen. Because hydrogen gives off a limited range of visible light, astronomers know what colors these ancient blobs should and shouldn't be.

The blob of note is a color it shouldn't be. In his new paper on the discovery, Chary argues a multiverse theory could explain the phenomenon.

"Our universe may simply be a region within an eternally inflating super-region," Chary wrote.

Multiverse theories suggest the continually expanding universe produced pockets of energy that expanded more quickly and formed their own pocket universes. For some scientists, the concept of cosmic inflation -- the rapid expansion of the early universe -- demands the plausibility of a multiverse.

"I would say most versions of inflation in fact lead to eternal inflation, producing a number of pocket universes," Alan Guth, a researcher at MIT and one of the architects of the inflation theory, told New Scientist.

While many renowned scientists acknowledge the possibility of multiple and parallel universes, many other equally accomplished astrophysicists and cosmologists consider the debate a waste of time -- more science fiction or philosophy than science. They argue the nature of empirical science makes it impossible to prove or disprove multiverse theories.

Others seek a middle ground.

A number of scientists suggest the little understood effects of foreground dust could tweak the ancient light in ways we still don't understand.

"I suspect that it would be worth looking into alternative possibilities," said Princeton University's David Spergel. "The dust properties are more complicated than we have been assuming, and I think that this is a more plausible explanation."

Chary tried to account for other possibilities. But even so, he knew his ideas would face strong skepticism.

"Unusual claims like evidence for alternate universes require a very high burden of proof," he writes in the new study.

Per usual, he says more research will be required to turn his "tentative detection" into "a definitive conclusion."

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