At a recent physics conference, Berezhiani expanded on the idea, outlining a possible parallel reality full of mirror stars, mirror galaxies and mirror black holes. Maybe even dark life? “Dark people is probably a bit farfetched,” says Broussard, who confesses that these ideas push her right to the edge of her comfort zone. “But dark matter is very likely as rich as our own matter.
Leah Broussard studies subatomic particles at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she will be searching for mirror matter this summer.
Broussard says her initial search for the mirror world won’t be especially difficult. “This is a pretty straightforward experiment that we cobbled together with parts we found lying around, using equipment and resources we already had available at Oak Ridge,” she says.
Broussard is looking for any telltale neutrons that managed to get past the barrier by turning into mirror neutrons, then turning back. “It all comes down to: Are we able to shine neutrons through a wall? ” she says. “We should see no neutrons” according to conventional physics theory.
Zurab Berezhiani, a physicist at the University of L’Aquila in Italy who has conducted his own mirror neutron searches, offers an intriguing explanation: Dark matter has been hard to find because it is hidden away in the mirror world.
A decade ago, Anatoli Serebrov of Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Russia introduced the idea that ordinary neutrons sometimes cross over into the mirror world and transform into mirror neutrons.
But if she unequivocally detects even a single mirror particle, it would prove that the visible universe is only half of what is out there — and that the known laws of physics are only half of a much broader set of rules. “If you discover something new like that, the game totally changes,” Broussard says.
Connect the dots, and you reach a far-out conclusion: The neutron experiments might look screwy because physicists unwittingly opened a portal to the mirror world.
The hard part is figuring out how to make some of the neutrons cross over into the mirror world, and then prove to her skeptical colleagues (and to her skeptical self) that it really happened.
And if that happens, Broussard will have uncovered the first evidence of a mirror world right alongside our own. “It’s pretty wacky,” Broussard says of her mind-bending exploration.