Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
It's funny.  Laugh. Science

Don't Cross the LHC Stream! (Maybe) 171

jamie points out this piece from always-entertaining Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, who asks this week the simple question "What happens if you put your hand in the beam of the Large Hadron Collider?" The thrill of discovery to me doesn't sound worth the worst-case scenario.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Don't Cross the LHC Stream! (Maybe)

Comments Filter:
  • Acrylic... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Freddybear ( 1805256 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @06:44PM (#33699646)

    An artist makes unusual "sculptures" by putting acrylic blocks into the beam path of a relatively small electron accelerator: []

  • Someone calculated that about 4 joules of energy would be deposited. I assume that is in a single pass of the beam. However, if the beam recirculates (does it?), then the hypothetical hand will get hit by the beam many times. Then a huge amount of energy will end up in the hand in a short time and it'd probably be cut by the beam as you inserted it.

    What also intrigues me is whether a fatal does of radiation would occur from the 4 joules/pass that you would get. I think it would be about 8 Gray of radiation dose into the hand. A 5 Gray whole-body dose of radiation is usually fatal. The hand is less vulnerable to radiation than the body in general, however, this cannot be a good thing.

    Here's my take:
    multiple passes: either hand is sliced as it is inserted into the beam, or the hand explodes
    single pass: might lose the hand, owner of hand might get pretty sick


  • by Myrv ( 305480 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @08:36PM (#33700306)

    Fermilab had a beam loss event in 2003 (beam came into contact with part of the ring). The beam drilled a 2.8 mm hole through a 5mm tungsten support. It also etched a groove 25 cm long and 1.5 mm deep into a stainless steel collimator (after passing through the tungsten). Apparently this took about 8.3 ms (over several turns of the beam) before the beam dissipated.

    I'm guessing if you could insert your hand fast enough (not possible, even if there wasn't a vacuum tube) you would end up with a nice small hole drilled through your hand.

    This is the report from the Fermi incident: []

  • by vlueboy ( 1799360 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:51PM (#33700658)

    That man's survival due to head/brain injury in the face of certain death reminds me of another "believe it or not" jewel duscussed OT on /. few weeks back [].

    A XIX century miner named Phineas Gage long survived a mining explosion that put a 13 pound metal rod of 3.5 feet [] across a room, after leaving a vertical hole in his head.

    Wikipedia's mention of seizures for both, and the related links citing auras and other pre-seizure electrical phenomena sound like a sobering human depiction of how power lines in movies keep crackling with current after being torn appart. The odd part is that after the original wounds "heal" (as far as a big hole in your head can be healed) the symptoms are few. Unlike your story, though, Mr. Gage did have the expected behavioral changes that IIRC head trauma patients are usually related to, at least in Cog Sci courses :)

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.