On October 7th 2015 thousands of people reportedly witnessed a cloud of towering skyscrapers drifting above the city of Foshan, in the Guangdong province of China. These mystical skyscrapers appeared for only a few minutes before disappearing.
Then, just days after the Foshan incident, the province of Jiangxi reported a similar cloud-city floating in the sky. These ghostly towns even made it onto the news, prompting conspiracy theories that they could be proof of a parallel universes.
A parallel universe is a self-contained, separate reality, which hypothetically co-exists alongside our observable universe. Imagine a reality in which you woke up one hour later than this morning, one where dinosaurs still exist, and another where Germany won the war — all happening at the same time.
Some conspiracy theorists, like paranormal journalist Jon Austin, believe that China’s floating cities support a groundbreaking theory on alternate realities.
In 2014 Professor Howard Wiseman, from Griffith University in Australia, proposed a new idea, which allows multiple versions of our universe to exist — and even interact with one another — on the quantum level. According to Wiseman’s ‘Interacting World’ theory, the universe that we experience is one of many worlds that co-exist simultaneously, overlapping and occupying the same region of time and space with other realities. So is it possible that these urban apparitions are rare glimpses into a parallel reality, which is interacting with our own?
Meteorologists have debunked this idea, citing an optical illusion called “Fata Morgana” as the real reason for the existence of this supernatural city.
According to atmospheric scientists, like Professor Kenneth Brown, this “parallel universe” is simply a mirage, which distorts objects that are far away. When warm air sits on top of cooler air, this creates an atmospheric duct, which refracts the light within it and creates a sharp image in the sky. Air of different density bends light, and this can make it look like objects are floating.
If conditions are just right, it is possible for entire cities, like Foshan, to appear like they are hovering above us. But journalist Dan Seitz has pointed out that these atmospheric ducts very rarely occur on land. The city of Foshan is more than 30 miles away from the sea, which throws into question the credibility of the Fata Morgana argument. So could the floating city be evidence of a parallel universes after all?
Well, there are many theories out there, which suggest that parallel universes do indeed exist. In physics, there are three key multiverse models, based on cosmologist Max Tegmark’s classification:
Type 2 is the “Membrane” model, proposed by string theorists’ idea that our universe is a 3D layer, which exists between layers of other universes, like pages in a book.
Type 3 is the “Many Worlds” model, which proposes that every possible alternate timeline exists, alongside the reality that we currently inhabit. This is the model that Professor Howard Wiseman’s interacting universe theory derives from.
British physicist Paul Davies and American scientist Martin Gardner both believe that the notion of the “multiverse” is absurd, because there is no empirical proof of its existence. They claim that the concept of more than one universe is an unnecessarily complex explanation for our reality.
And South African cosmologist George Ellis is sceptical because these theories cannot be subjected to laboratory testing, which means that speculation about the multiverse is philosophy — not science.
However, in 2015 scientists from CERN in Switzerland started analyzing data collected from the Large Hadron Collider, in a bid to find traces of other universes.
So is there something that the scientific community is hiding from the rest of us? Researchers at CERN predict that gravity can leak into other dimensions. If this is possible, then the Hadron Collider should be able to produce mini-black holes within the walls of its machine. So, if evidence of these black holes is found in this new data, then it could mean that more universes exist in dimensions other than our own.
As gravity can flow out of our universe into the extra dimensions, such a model can be tested by the detection of mini black holes at the LHC.
Mir Faizal, one of the three-strong team of physicists behind the experiment, said.
We have calculated the energy at which we expect to detect these mini black holes in ‘gravity’s rainbow’ [a new scientific theory]. If we do detect mini black holes at this energy, then we will know that both gravity’s rainbow and extra dimensions are correct.
But for some, China’s floating cities in the sky are all the evidence they need for proof of parallel universes.