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View Full Version : What would happen if I sat inside a particle accellerator?


aldiboronti
02-03-2005, 01:17 AM
The Large Hadron Collider (http://lhc-new-homepage.web.cern.ch/lhc-new-homepage/) is nearing completion at Geneva. What would happen to me if I sat inside one of the two tunnels where protons are accellerated to near the speed of light? Would I feel anything or would they zip harmlessly through me?

And how about if I positioned myself at an intersection so that the two beams collided in the middle of my body?

(I'm not toying with the idea of a spectacular self-immolation, by the way. Just curious!

scr4
02-03-2005, 01:51 AM
I think you would asphyxiate before anything else happens to you. The tubes are under vacuum, after all.

If you had a breathing gear, you'd still die of radiation poisoning. The beam would do the same type of damage as high-energy X-rays and gamma rays. Even if you don't die immediately, risk of cancer would increase significantly.

Even sitting in the same room can give you a fatal dose of radiation. When I did some work at a synchrotron facility, they would evacuate the entire lab at the start of each day when they powered up the accelerator beam. Apparently the room was safe to work in after the beam stabilized - I can't remember the reasoning anymore, sorry.

Popup
02-03-2005, 03:27 AM
You'd also be very, very cold. And small. The beam cavity is on the order of centimetres, and as all the magnets are superconducting, they're kept at very low temperatures.

On the other hand, it wouldn't be the first time anything got stuck in there. When they were starting up LEP (he predecessor to LHC) they were having weird problems with the beams. It turned out that someone had 'forgotten' a beer can inside the beam pipe!

bonzer
02-03-2005, 06:50 AM
While any of the synchrotrons at CERN are actually running, the tunnel it's in counts as a high radiation area. Trying to enter one will immediately set off alarms and, I'd suspect, automatically shut down the accelerator. This isn't so much because of the particles themselves, as the fact that as they race round the beamline they're undergoing an inwards acceleration and so are giving off sychrotron radiation. There can also be nasty showers of particles if the beam hits the tube wall, so you wouldn't want to be standing there if the power accidently went off.
Historically, the original cyclotrons at places like Berkeley in the 1930s had beams that could be projected out of the machine into air. The old photos of this show the beam extending light-saber-fashion for a couple of metres into the lab as the particles ionise the air. I'd expect that to feel bloody hot if you put your hand in the way. Though obviously such beams were at significantly lower energies than at the likes of LEP.


It turned out that someone had 'forgotten' a beer can inside the beam pipe!

It was actually two empty Heinekin bottles ("http://aleph.web.cern.ch/aleph/alnews_archive/echenevex/news001084.html).

Mycroft H.
02-03-2005, 07:49 AM
No, it wasn't an accident. Albert was just trying to split the beer atom!

BMalion
02-03-2005, 09:23 AM
You would undoubtably gain super-powers.

Joe Random
02-03-2005, 10:36 AM
You would undoubtably gain super-powers.Obviously. However, you'd also disrupt whatever experiment was being conducted, and the head of the research team would, of course, swear revenge on you and begin to use his/her massive intellect for evil instead of for good.

Now tell me, is gaining some measly super powers worth releasing yet another super-villain into the world?

Smeghead
02-03-2005, 01:00 PM
Now tell me, is gaining some measly super powers worth releasing yet another super-villain into the world?

There must be balance in all things, young Padawan.

yBeayf
02-03-2005, 01:12 PM
Here's a guy (http://wired.com/wired/archive/5.12/science.html) who got in the way of a particle beam and lived to tell about it.

Find Friends
02-03-2005, 01:26 PM
Now tell me, is gaining some measly super powers worth releasing yet another super-villain into the world?

Damn straight it is. And besides, all of the extant super-villains have been "spoken for". If another one isn't created, with whom would I battle?

* * * * * * * * * *

True Blue Jack

NurseCarmen
02-03-2005, 02:58 PM
Now tell me, is gaining some measly super powers worth releasing yet another super-villain into the world?
Are they beer related super powers? Because that would certainly tilt the scales when considering.

aldiboronti
02-03-2005, 05:16 PM
Here's a guy (http://wired.com/wired/archive/5.12/science.html) who got in the way of a particle beam and lived to tell about it.

Wow! What an astonishing story. I am well answered. I think I'll steer clear of particle beams for the foreseeable future.

Joe Random
02-03-2005, 05:51 PM
Are they beer related super powers? Because that would certainly tilt the scales when considering.Well, I suppose it's possible. I mean, they could be conducting an experiment to try and split the beer atom, and your DNA might become infused with sub-atomic beer super strings . . . or something. But particle accelerator induced super powers are unpredictable; you might gain an infinite tolerance for alcohol, or you might just end up with a perpetual hangover. And who wants to have to fight a super villain, day in and day out, under the guise of Hangover Man? Not me.

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