Tag Archives: soviet

The man who got his head into a particle accelerator


We’ve all heard stories about soviet scientists, and Hollywood played quite an important role in that. Really few of those stories are actually true, but here’s one that will probably baffle you; it did this to Russian physicists and doctors. First of all, it has to be said that by the time the USSR divided, they had created more than 50 science towns, that lost their funding after it collapsed, quitting research.

A thing that they were really interested about was particle accelerators, because the sum of the parts is very different than the total. Actually, a soviet scientists used a very interesting analogy.
it’s like two Soviet Fiats colliding to produce a bus and a Mercedes Benz 600. The story of Anatoli Bugorski is definitely a very interesting one. When he looked into a particle accelerator to check a piece of the equipment (yeah, they’re not really into safety at work) a particle entered his head. In 1978 the proton beam entered his head measuring about 200,000 rads, collided with the inside of his head, and exited measuring about 300,000 rads.

He was blinded by the light of more than a thousand suns, but felt no pain. His face was really swollen and the doctors he was taken too were expecting to see him die in a few days. He didn’t. After that, they expected to see paralysis and other really bad symptoms. These didn’t appeared. As a matter of fact he continues to live a normal life and actually works in scientific fields.

Despite the fact that he would want to help other western scientists, he doesn’t want to leave the science city of Protvino; these towns are half dead, half hopeful, and half brilliant. The unglamorous miracle of their survival is not really that amazing, especially when a particle moving at the speed of sound or faster goes throught your head.