(ORDO NEWS) — What happens if you put your hand under a beam of particles in an accelerator? If we forget that accelerated particles fly in a vacuum in the synchrotron ring, we can conduct a thought experiment and try to guess the consequences. And you can refer to the experience of a person who put his head into the synchrotron.
Particles flying in the tunnels of synchrotrons around the world have monstrous energies that a person does not have to face in ordinary life.
Even in medical devices, alpha particles with which doctors bombard cancerous tumors have an energy of no more than 250 million electron volts, and the energy of particles in accelerator beams is measured in billions of eV.
Their impact on humans has long been the subject of exclusively thought experiments, until July 13, 1978, the Soviet physicist Anatoly Bugorsky put his head under a beam of protons in the U-70 synchrotron in Protvino.
On that historic day, a protective mechanism failed, and a beam of protons at near-light speed passed through Bugorsky’s skull and brain as he leaned over to perform minor repairs on the faulty part.
Having received 200,000 roentgens at the entrance, and 300,000 roentgens more at the output due to scattering on the material, the scientist remained alive, defended his dissertation, which had begun even before the incident, and worked all his life at the same synchrotron, but still suffers from seizures, and his face seemed to be divided into two parts, of which one looks somewhat younger than the other.
The incident was hushed up for a long time, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the physicist began to give interviews in which he talked about how he saw a bright flash, but did not feel pain at all.
Doctors still have not found cancer markers in his body, although radiation often causes cancer. Perhaps the whole point is that a precisely focused beam of particles passed through Bugorsky’s head, which managed to touch very few cells of a limited number of tissues.
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