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What would happen if I was standing in the LHC

  1. Sep 28, 2014 #1
    What would happen if I was standing in the LHC and I was hit by a (one) proton travelling at 99.999991% the speed of light. Would the collision burn a hole in me? or would it simply be going so fast that it passes through me without interacting with the particles in my body?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2014 #2


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    Several physics professors were asked this question:

  4. Sep 28, 2014 #3
    There was someone who once got hit by a particle beam in the USSR, albeit of much lower energy. It seems to have made a high-aspect ratio, extremely deep but localized radiation burn. I.E. Burning a hole in him. He did live, but had permanent injuries and... weirdness happen to that side of his face and I think even seizures.

    Of course, with just 1 singular particle, the energy would be on the order of like a microjoule or so, so it wouldn't do much damage, probably heat up your hand or kill a few cells or something. It also depends on whether, after going through your hand and depositing a small fraction of it's kinetic energy, it got to go back around the loop multiple times and continue repeatedly being slowed in your hand.

    If it weren't moving so fast, you'd normally imagine that it would just stop dead in it's tracks after getting nanometers into you and making an explosion, but I think at that speed, the cross section of an atom that could actually have much of an effect on it's trajectory is much smaller. It probably would have to hit the nucleus, and even then, I'm not sure if that would be "solid" enough to stop them from passing straight through each other and just heating up or being blown to smithereens, but nonetheless, not fully "colliding."

    Basically, Newton's penetration depth calculation is utterly worthless here because the particles aren't colliding, they are going through each other, so it'd probably go through you, depositing a few GeV.
  5. Sep 28, 2014 #4


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    I couldn't find how many protons went through his head, but from the video provided by A.T., it sounds like they routinely deal with billions of them.
    So my guess, without doing any math, would be that you wouldn't notice anything, if it were just a single proton.
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