With all the speculation around unidentified flying objects (UFOs) of late, you may have missed that we're about to make contact with a parallel universe.
According to an article doing the rounds on Twitter, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are due to get chatty with the parallel universe "within days". While great news for us and the presumably evil version of us waiting on the other side, it sadly falls a few weeks too late to help promote Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Like many other viral stories, it's nonsense. It's also based on a Daily Express story that is eight years old, so unless they made contact with a parallel universe and then kept it on the down low, either out of modesty or because it was filled to the brim with Cthulus, it's fair to conclude that nothing happened. The article being shared around Twitter at the moment, while newer, is still months out of date.
What's more, the actual experiment alluded to was also not about making "contact" with a parallel universe, nor was it talking about a "multiverse" as many people have interpreted it from the headline.
"Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized," Professor Mir Faizal from the University of Waterloo told Phys.org. "This cannot be tested and so it is philosophy and not science."
What could be tested is the existence of extra dimensions, if Faizal's paper in Physics Letters B is correct. It's been proposed many times that the universe could be filled with miniature black holes, perhaps smaller than an atom, but producing them and detecting them is particularly challenging.
In a four-dimensional universe, you would need 1016 TeV of energy in order to produce the black holes, well beyond the capabilities of the LHC. However, if there are more dimensions – as in the string theory model of the universe that involves 10 dimensions – then theoretically the LHC could produce miniature black holes. Some scientists went further and said it should be producing around one miniature black hole per second.
A refresher on string theory for you from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.
In 2015, no miniature black holes had been detected. That's where Faizal's paper came in. He and his co-authors believed that the energy required to produce miniature black holes in a 10-dimensional universe had been miscalculated, and could theoretically be produced only once the LHC went over 11.9 TeV. As the LHC powered up and started smashing atoms together at higher and higher energies, it was hoped that the detection of miniature black holes at around this energy would confirm the existence of extra dimensions.
"Just as many parallel sheets of paper, which are two dimensional objects (breadth and length) can exist in a third dimension (height), parallel universes can also exist in higher dimensions," Faizal told the Daily Mail. "We predict that gravity can leak into extra dimensions, and if it does, then miniature black holes can be produced at the LHC."
So scientists aren't about to contact parallel universes, and they weren't in 2015 either. But at least it isn't as strange as other articles we've seen about the LHC, including that they do human sacrifices there on the side and that they opened up a massive black hole in the sky, the former of which was actually a prank and the latter a cloud.
An earlier version of this article was published in October 2020.