What would happen if you were to stick your hand in front of a proton beam at the LHC?
CERN’S ‘Large Hadron Collide’r resides between the borders of Switzerland and France, some 100 meters (or 300 feet) underground. This incredible machine, which has been dubbed “the largest and most powerful scientific experiment of all time,” spans more than 27 kilometers (17 miles) in tota lengthl, with an average width of about 3.8 meters (or 12.4 feet). Why is it so large, you may ask? It is because the physicists working at CERN are slamming fundamental building blocks of matter together, mimicking the conditions that are believed to have existed only a trillionth of a second after the ignition of the big bang, throwing our universe (and ultimately you and I) into existence.
In order to accomplish this goal, quite a bit of energy needs to be generated ( 7 TRILLION electron volts apiece), with the particles reaching near light-speed (about 299, 792 kilometers p/s or 186, 282 miles p/s)
As you can imagine, it might not be the best idea to stand in the way of one of these beams, as this energy far exceeds any other method of generating energy that we use on a daily basis. But, what would happen to you if you did get in the way?
First, I’d like to ask you what YOU think would happen: Your hand vs. The Large Hadron Collider…which one would emerge victorious?
Before you answer, check this video out:
Now, if you answered, “the LHC would win,” you are right …probably no terrible surprise there.
In fact, a similar incident was recorded during the space race era, when a nuclear scientist from Russia, Anatoli Bugorski, accidentally stuck his head in the path of a proton beam from another particle accelerator. He was checking on a piece of equipment that was malfunctioning…equipment
THE MAN WHO LIVED TO TELL THE TALE:
In this case, he survived, but as mentioned above, a thin strip of his scalp, brain, and skull were ripped straight through with minimum damage (all things considered). Notably, it has been said that he didn’t feel any pain, and it even took a few moments for him to realize what had happened. Surprising, as he didn’t realize it, even AFTER he saw a huge flash of light that was brighter than the sun. Afterwards, the left portion of his face swelled up beyond recognition, before ultimately peeling off in layers, revealing the path the proton beams took through his head. Unluckily (or perhaps extremely luckily), all of the nerves on the left side of his face became paralyzed, but the most neurological damage done to him was epilepsy. Furthermore, the paralyzed side of his face is alleged to not age. This occurred in 1978 and Bugorski is still alive today, living near Moscow.
Sufficed to say… nothing good would come out of sticking your hand (or head) in the path of a proton beam. If you do it anyway, pics or it didn’t happen 😉