Leadership

Video: Don't put your hand in the Large Hadron Collider beam

If you put your hand in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam, what would happen? What if a nearby star went supernova? In this video, scientists answer these questions and more about physics and astronomy.

In this Sixty Symbols video, scientists from the University of Nottingham answer a question about what would happen if a person put their hand in front of the beam of the Large Hadron Collider. Even though they don't necessarily know what would happen, all the scientists agree that you don't want to find out.

The experts also answer these viewer questions (most of these are shortened versions of the questions): If there was a galaxy made completely out of antiparticles, would it behave the same way as our galaxy? If the universe was to come into existence again, would we have the same forces and constants? What if a nearby star went supernova? What is your favorite symbol?

If you enjoy this 13-minute video, check out part one in the video series, in which the scientists answer questions about string theory (specifically, can you explain string theory in a way I can understand?), the speed of gravity, and magnetism.

What physics or astronomy questions would you consider submitting to the folks at the Sixty Symbols site?

(Thanks to Selena Frye for the video link.)

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

14 comments
jck
jck

thanks

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

that would be something. Worrying about gamma radiation, on the other hand, that's iffy. It goes beyond the limits of the word "worry" - we can worry about the effects of the gamma rads, sure enough, but it's not like there's a sunscreen for gamma. Or even a bunker. Nanoweave faraday umbrella maybe ;)

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

We just move Jupiter so that it is positioned between the Earth and Betelgeuse. Since Jupiter is uninhabited, nobody is likely to complain, and it's massive enough to absorb the radiation as well as anything. So, how DO we move Jupiter and keep it in place to soak up the waves of radiation?

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Jupiter is uninhabited? Just because we can't imagine or measure anything that might inhabit what is to us toxic?

ds4211a
ds4211a

Find someone who got short changed by the gene pool. Tell them that you accidentally dropped your watch in the path and ask them to retrieve it for you.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Do you really want to risk the chance of a gene pool dropout gaining god-like superpowers? /laugh

franjo.posta
franjo.posta

About the constants part. I'm not sure that the same constants that we have here, are the same as the constants in some other galaxy in this Universe, because no one had measured them.. If the constants are not the same in the "other" Universe, the ratio between those constants will probably be the same as the ratio we have in this...

OdeonIT
OdeonIT

While we can't *directly* measure the constants in other galaxies, we can (and do) use symmetry and the things that we *can* measure (such as absorption spectrums and the types of energy being sent to us from those galaxies) to infer that the constants must be the same. The constants and forces are believed to be universal because of these symmetries in all directions that we've compared, which includes a significant percentage of the possible directions. The biggest problem with determining whether or not "alternate" universes (or our own universe "reborn") would match ours as it is now is the fact that we haven't determined the cause(s) of why our universe is the way it is. Until we know the cause(s), we can't say how those causes might have had different values and/or properties, which in turn means we can't say how the results would differ.

Vedolin
Vedolin

This thought is not mine, but I can't remember the author: Could God have made the universe any different than what it is?

Fireboss
Fireboss

God is God therefore he/she can do as he/she pleases and making thing different than the way we know it would be one of those things...

zclayton2
zclayton2

If you are putting your hand in the beam, then your hand becomes the target. Two things will happen for sure: One, the protons ripping through will cause a lot of ionizations in the atoms of your hand, giving you a large RAD dose to your extremities. Second, if you get nucleus collisions, you are going to have other types of radiation exposure that will probably give you a further radiation exposure to the rest of your body. This was the problem cited for synchrotron radiation and particle beams. The vacuum, kinetic energy deposition, and other items mentioned are probably going to be incidental to the radiation exposure the beam would cause. Yeah, it would probably be bad for you.

robo_dev
robo_dev

and it would start pulling you in with it.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Depends on the duration and nature of the particle beam. Considering the lack of density of the material in the hand, a single short particle pulse may pass through without interacting with any of the atoms of your hand. A long, sustained burst would likely have the same effect as the particle beam cannon that was (and maybe still is) under development by the military. Apparently doesn't work well over long distance in the atmosphere due to all the air molecules getting in the way; but as an anti-satellite weapon, it showed promise. But even then, it required a sustained beam to do enough damage.