Was passiert, wenn man seine Hand in den LHC steckt

22.09.2010 Misc Science #LHC

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(Youtube DirektLHC, via Gizmodo)

Sixty Symbols hat den Wissenschaftlern am CERN die Frage gestellt, was passiert, wenn man seine Hand in den Partikelstrom des LHCs steckt. Sie wissen es nicht, halten es aber für eine schlechte Idee, auch wenn die Wahrscheinlichkeit ziemlich hoch ist, dass man genau nichts merkt, weil wir tatsächlich vor allem aus leerem Raum bestehen (und zwar nicht „in a sense“, wie sie bei Discover Mag schreiben, sondern wörtlich, genauso wie wir im Grunde niemals etwas wirklich berühren, sondern es lediglich die Elektronen-Orbitale sind, die sich gegenseitig abstoßen).

It’s complicated! You have to think about the energy of the beam, of course, but also the energy of a given proton as it moves at 99.9999% the speed of light. But that number doesn’t mean anything if the proton doesn’t actually interact with the matter in your hand, so you have to consider the "cross-section" of the atoms in your hand. Think of it this way: if you shoot a gun at a target, you make a hole. But if you shoot a gun at a fishing net, it might pass right through. Most of the area of a fishing net is holes! The nuclei of atoms are very small compared to the atoms themselves, so in a sense most of you is empty space.

And there’s more. The beam of the LHC is in a small tube that’s a high-grade vacuum — getting your hand in there would be tough. And there’s a magnetic field of ferocious strength there, so I hope you don’t have any metal bits in you. And there are actually two beams going in opposite directions.

So taken in total, I’m not sure what would happen. If the total energy of the beams were dumped into your hand all at once, it would act like dropping a bomb on you. One of the scientists in the video says the total energy in the beams is 300 megajoules, which is equivalent to 75 kilograms (165 pounds) of TNT going off. That’s about 300 sticks of dynamite, if you’re curious.

Bang! Ow.

But depositing all that energy all at once may not be possible; protons are so small they may not all hit you and suddenly stop.

Don’t cross the LHC stream!