Probably read 15-20 years ago. English Paperback.

Scientists running a deep underground Neutrino Detector [might have been cosmic rays]. It was a VERY Large tank of water with detectors built into the tank walls looking for (flashes?) as the particles interacted with the water as they passed through (I think it happened Very Rarely)

Suddenly alarms go off, the detectors are going crazy and the tank is over-pressured. A Tech who happened to be down doing maintenence at the tank, (The control room is on the surface, and the tank is like a mile underground) opens an access hatch to the tank and discovers a man in the tank who is alive.

The story is now told in alternating points of view: People in This world, and People in the world of his origin. In his world the water tank had been designed for something else. [Maybe a super computer, or Super collider or some other advanced research tech involving super conducting magnets?]

The scientist at the facility in this world wants to know, who he is, how he got in the tank, (which is now contaminated, will need to be emptied, cleaned, repair the detectors, and refilled with (heavy water? ultra pure water?) IIRC, one of the administrators was ranting and raving that the little prank someone pulled was going to cost millions to fix) end eventually, just What is he?

The other world are focused on, what happened, where is he, etc. But I think it was more focused on his family who were the protagonist of the story. (Maybe it was a private experiment who his family were running?) I seem to recall it was a female family member (wife? sister? mother?) who was very involved in the search for answers.

The crux of the story is he was not quite human. I forget the specifics. Maybe he was telepathic. He is close to human, But the difference is enough I think to convince our world, that he must be from an alternate world. And they are trying to figure out how it happened. The man has no idea what happened. One second he was in his world in the underground facility, and next he is drowning in a huge tank of water.

I also have a vague recollection of his world it might have been a matriarchy society. I do seem to recall a separation of the sexes. Not mixing unless married?

2 Answers 2


Sounds like the Neanderthal Parallax by Robert J. Sawyer to me, which is a trilogy composed of Hominids, Human, and Hybrids. From Goodreads:

Neanderthals have developed a radically different civilization on a parallel Earth. A Neanderthal physicist, Ponter Boddit, accidentally passes from his universe into a Canadian underground research facility. Fortunately, a team of human scientists, including expert paleo-anthropologist Mary Vaughan, promptly identifies and warmly receives Ponter. Solving the language problem and much else is a mini-computer, called a Companion, implanted in the brain of every Neanderthal. A computerized guardian spirit, however, doesn't eliminate cross-cultural confusion; permanent male-female sexuality, rape, and overpopulation are all alien to Ponter. Nor can it help his housemate and fellow scientist back in his world, Adikor Huld, when the authorities charge Adikor with his murder.

The "Canadian underground research facility" mentioned in the synopsis is the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, which, as you say, is a large underground tank of heavy water used to detect neutrinos coming from the sun. I believe in Ponter's world the facility is used for quantum computer research.

The narrative alternates focus between Ponter finding himself in an alien world (i.e., ours), and his own world, where homo neanderthalensis had become dominant rather than homo sapiens, where his wife suspects he had been murdered by his [male] mate, with whom he lives periodically based on the menstrual cycles of the community's women.

  • 1
    Yes that is it. I do recall that I could not remember the ending, and since it was a trilogy, that would make sense. I only read the first book.
    – NJohnny
    Apr 1, 2019 at 0:50
  • When you're able, please click the checkmark at the left beside the answer to mark it as the correct one. The first book is the best, the last two are worth reading as well. Sawyer has a way sometimes of adding weird third-act twists I'm not keen on, but it's otherwise a great read. Apr 1, 2019 at 0:53
  • 4
    Nice answer, although it’s not a “flooded nickel mine”. It is an acrylic dome that, at the time, had been lined with photomultiplier tubes and filled with heavy water, to detect neutrinos via Cherenkov radiation. The heavy water was contained in the acrylic vessel. The mine was not flooded. That would have rendered the experiment futile, as dust and debris from the mine would have completely obscured any neutrino detection. (Source: Me. This is a now famous neutrino experiment and, in my field of work, knowing what was done there and how it was done is important.)
    – Praxis
    Apr 1, 2019 at 1:48
  • You beat me by exactly one minute. Apr 1, 2019 at 4:08
  • 1
    The SNO detector used to be filled with heavy water. It was returned to the Canadian government after the experiment finished (it's very expensive). The detector has since been upgraded to SNO+ (well, it's almost exactly the same physical detector but some of the PMTs were fixed and the electronics were upgraded). It's currently mostly full of regular water and is currently being filled with liquid scintillator for a neutrinoless double beta decay search.
    – user545424
    Apr 1, 2019 at 22:39

My answer would be "Hominids" by Robert J. Sawyer. Many elements that you cite are in that book. The guy transferred over isn't telepathic, but a neanderthal. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/264946.Hominids

The book is the first of a trilogy.

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