Scientist amazingly survives zapping by particle accelerator

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Scott Edelman
Dec 14, 2012

In comic books, if you get zapped by a particle accelerator, you're turned into a superhero. But if you get zapped by one in the real world, you die, right? That's the way it's supposed to work out, but a Russian researcher stuck his head into a running particle accelerator and, amazingly, lived!

Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski, a scientist working on the Soviet particle accelerator the synchrotron U-70 at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, leaned over a piece of equipment in 1978 and accidentally stuck his head through part of the accelerator that the proton beam was running through. He felt no pain, but saw a flash "brighter than a thousand suns."

Based on the amount of radiation Bugorski absorbed, he should have died. To give you an idea of how remarkable it was he survived, exposure to more than 5 grays (a gray being a unit of absorbed radiation) at any time usually leads to death within 14 days. The beam that passed through Bugorski measured 2000 grays as it entered his skull and around 3000 grays when it came out the other side.


According to Today I Found Out:

Shortly after this happened, Bugorski's left half of his face swelled up beyond recognition. He was taken to the hospital and studied as this was something that had never been seen before and so they closely monitored him thereafter, fully expecting him to die within a few days at most.

Although the skin on the part of his face and back of his head where the beam hit eventually peeled off over the next few days, Bugorski did not die as they thought he would. The beam also burned through his skull and brain tissue along with the afore mentioned skin. However, ultimately he came through it all surprisingly well.

Additionally, though the right side of Bugorski's face has aged normally, the side through which the proton beam passed "looks as if it was frozen in time 19 years ago." If you're hoping to find the fountain of youth, however, we don't recommend you try sticking your head in an active particle accelerator.

(via Boing Boing)