The standard model is our tried and tested way to make sense of the Universe. Physicists have relied on it for quite some time now to explain the weird phenomenon that they might see in their daily course of experimentation.
However, there have always been signs that either it is not the complete picture, or it is wholly wrong. Whichever case it may be, the suspicion arises from the observation of several explanations of defying phenomenon that researchers have observed. Strange prediction of a new species of neutrinos, one more than what the standard model predicts, is only the tip of the iceberg.
A recent detection by the Antarctica Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) seems to be one of those ‘weird’ observations. It is part of a series of detection of high-energy particles being blasted from the icy continent, which started in 2016. The antenna itself is riding a balloon far off the surface. However, it is quite adept at detecting these particles.
These events, along with other observations at the Antarctica neutrino observatory IceCube, do not follow any set pattern of behaviour that the Standard model predicts. According to the Standard model, high-energy neutrinos shouldn’t be able to pass through matter. This is contradicted by the observations where these high energy neutrino-like particles have passed through the Earth. This leaves only one possibility; these are not neutrinos.
Normal neutrinos are like ghosts, and these massless particles pass through normal matter with ease. A large number of neutrinos that are ejected from the sun pass through the Earth every second. We cannot sense these particles, and it is hard to detect them for the most expensive of detectors.
The difference between normal and high-energy neutrinos is that of the cross-sections. High-energy neutrinos have a higher cross-section and therefore a higher chance of colliding with the matter that it is passing through. The probability of a high-energy neutrino colliding with matter is so high that the chances of one passing through Earth without colliding are near zero.
Researchers are making attempts to reconcile this observation with the standard model. One theory suggests that these high-energy neutrinos could’ve been produced by the interaction of cosmic rays with the CMB; however, for this explanation to work, there should have been a stream of low energy particles with the high-energy ones. There is a long list of possible candidates that could have produced a stream of high-energy neutrinos big enough for some of them to cross the Earth. However, none of them seem reconcilable with the standard model.
No matter how the researchers look at it, the standard model doesn’t work for these sets of results. This means that it is time to re-evaluate our knowledge of the Universe and figure out something new that could explain this. Whatever the physicists do next, it will probably bring about a big shift in how we view the Universe and reality itself.
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