Electric Current
Electricity and Magnetism

The man who was hit by a proton current

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

While there is ample research on the effects of electron currents on humans, there is limited evidence of how other types of charged particles might interact with the body. In 1978, a Soviet engineer, Anatoli Bugorski, was working on a synchrotron in Protvino, Russia when he was hit in the face by a beam of 76 GeV protons. He described seeing a light “brighter than a thousand suns”, but reported no pain in the moment. He suffered radiation scarring to his face, hearing loss, paralysis to the left side of his face, and, subsequently, occasional seizures. However, he appears not to have suffered any mental impairment – he went on to complete his PhD and continued to work at the facility.

Though it has not been confirmed experimentally, it has been suggested that the taste of a proton current would be sour.


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