In the classic Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror," several members of the Enterprise crew inadvertently exchange places with their counterparts from an evil mirror universe.

Now two theoretical physicists have hypothesized that something like that may really be happening -- at least with neutrons.

According to Science Daily, Zurab Berezhiani and Fabrizio Nesti of the University of l'Aquila in Italy analyzed experimental data obtained by a French research group which "showed that the loss rate of very slow free neutrons appeared to depend on the direction and strength of the magnetic field applied. This anomaly could not be explained by known physics."

Berezhiani's proposed explanation for the anomaly is that there is a parallel world made up of mirror particles, and that every neutron has the ability to transition into its invisible twin and then back again, oscillating between the two worlds every few seconds.

To fully explain the experimental data, however, the probability of this oscillation would have to be sensitive to the presence of a magnetic field.

"This interpretation is subject to the condition that the earth possesses a mirror magnetic field on the order of 0.1 Gauss," the Science Daily article concludes. "Such a field could be induced by mirror particles floating around in the galaxy as dark matter. Hypothetically, the earth could capture the mirror matter via some feeble interactions between ordinary particles and those from parallel worlds."

Image of the quark structure of a neutron by Harp via Wikimedia Commons