Star Trek Guide

NASA May Have Just Confirmed a Parallel Mirror Universe (Yes, Really)

A NASA-backed research project in Antarctica has revealed traces of a possible reverse, parallel universe that feels like something out of Star Trek. Discovered through a "giant balloon carrying a collection of antennas float[ing] high above the ice," scientists identified high energy signatures emitting from the earth. Research teams have been attempting to decipher these unconventional neutrino signals for over a decade in one form or another, concluding that the particles just can’t be explained by our current understanding of physics.

With conventional explanations drying-up, project lead Peter Gorham has turned to an alternative solution for the signals found by the ANITA balloon (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna). In April, his team concluded that the particles may show the existence of an inverted universe, created during the Big Bang alongside our own. Simply speaking, the rationale for his suggestion is that neutrinos and other higher-energy particles should be blocked by the Earth, and only ever detected as stemming from outer space. Finding such particles coming from the Earth, therefore, implies something weird: they must be traveling backward in space and time. This means that, in a mirror world, down is up, right is left, and morning is the evening.

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The next obvious question for scientists to ask is whether it's this mirror world, or our own universe, that's the dark one. A look at the experiment alone raises some worrying red flags. For a start, we know from 2001 Space Odyessy that it's a bad idea to name your project robot with a friendly acronym. Second, the project's goal -- to turn Antarctica into a continent-sized neutrino telescope -- reads like it was taken straight from a First Order to-do list. And finally, is it really reasonable to expect a team of scientists to spend years in an antarctic research base without recreating The Thing?

Turning to our best sci-fi franchises might shed some light on our newly-discovered backward neighbors. The most obvious parallel (ahem) has to be Star Trek's recurrent mirror universe, which contains the Federation's evil twin -- the Terran Empire. This reverse version of our world first appeared in Season 2 of The Original Series, when prime universe Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura found themselves switched with mirror universe doppelgangers. The episode is full of fascistic references, authoritarian warnings and questionable goatees (or Van Dykes, if you want to be specific), suggesting that we may want to hold off on any antarctic welcome parties.

Since then, Deep Space Nine spent five episodes in the Mirror Universe, finding it was possible to affect and diverge mirror timelines. Death in our world didn't necessarily carry over to the alternate world, and it turned out that those who'd visited the mirror universe had a positive effect on the Terranians. As for Enterprise, “In a Mirror, Darkly” showed us what happened to those trapped in the mirror universe with the USS Defiant. Most recently, Discovery had a multi-episode run-in with the alternative dimension, when Captain Gabriel Lorca was found to be a mirror person, thanks to his intolerance to bright light. Now, fans are just waiting for Picard's first Mirror Universe foray in Star Trek: Picard.

But given that ANITA is suggesting that up is down inside our twin universe, perhaps this is more of a Stranger Things world? Using their best D&D strategy, Eleven and the gang sealed off the Mind Flayer-controlled dimension, after secretive Russian Government programs managed to make a bridge. Doctor Strange definitely has a claim in here somewhere, too. However, seeing as one does not simply travel to the mirror universe, the full truth about this mysterious version of our world is going have to wait. Of course, if we do ever get to meet our mirror selves, it's us they'd think of as backward -- so who are we to judge.