Not even the world’s greatest researchers are too sure about what really happens when you put your hand in front of a particle accelerator beam. And yet, we know what happens (not always) when you stick your head into a particle accelerator.
That is because a Russian scientist named Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski, in the year 1978, working at U-70 synchrotron at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, accidentally put his head into a particle accelerator while checking for a dysfunctional part in the equipment. His head came in the path of a high-energy proton beam moving at a speed that was just slightly less than the speed of light. The beam entered his head from the back and came out from somewhere around the nose. Only he knows what he exactly saw when that happened. Apparently, he saw a very bright light, a light brighter than thousand suns and felt no pain.
The left part of his face, where the beam had passed, started swelling beyond recognition and people were certain that the man would soon die due to radiation poisoning. The proton beam had travelled through his head, burning all the living tissue in between and caused the skin at entry and exit points to peel off. The beam had passed a part of his brain and had burnt a considerable amount of brain tissue too. The picture below shows the path where the beam travelled and burnt all the living tissue.
Miraculously, he survived after being exposed to about 200,000 rads of radiation dose (enough to nearly kill the toughest bacterium)! Hell, even 500-600 rads are lethal for human beings. That was mostly because the beam was very thin and only a fraction of tissues out of the whole body that got exposed to the beam were severely damaged, it left most of the remainder of the body exposed at pretty low levels of radiation.
Not just that, his mental performance showed no signs of degeneration. He even went on to complete his Ph.D after this accident and still lives a fairly healthy life. However, the accident did leave him with a dysfunctional left ear and a permanently paralysed left side of his face. Notably, the left side of his face became frozen and also never aged. At the same time, the right side of his face ages normally.
At that time this accident was buried by the Soviet Union and was branded as top-secret. It was only a couple of years later the whole world came to know about this.
Anatoli remains to be the only person to have ever done this. Most shockingly, he also survived it and still lives a fairly healthy life today.
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