The Man Who Stuck His Head Inside a Particle Accelerator
Date: Friday, November 28 @ 15:26:56 MST

As a 36 year old researcher at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, Anatoli Bugorski used to work with the largest Soviet particle accelerator, the synchrotron U-70. On July 13, 1978, Bugorski was checking a malfunctioning piece of equipment when an accident occurred due to failed safety mechanisms..|Read More|

A sub-atomic bullet to the head

Anatoli Bugorski Bugorski was leaning over the piece of equipment when he stuck his head in the part through which the proton beam was running. Reportedly, he saw a flash ďbrighter than a thousand sunsĒ, but did not feel any pain. The beam measured about 2000 gray when it entered Bugorskiís skull, and about 3000 gray when it exited after colliding with the inside of his head inflicting about five hundred times the presumed lethal dose.

The left half of Bugorskiís face swelled up beyond recognition, and over the next several days started peeling off, showing the path that the proton beam (moving near the speed of light) had burned through parts of his face, his bone, and the brain tissue underneath. As it was believed that about 5 to 6 grays is enough to kill a person, Bugorski was taken to a clinic in Moscow where the doctors could observe his expected demise.

Over the next few days, skin on the back of his head and on his face just next to his left nostril peeled away to reveal the path the beam had burned through the skin, the skull, and the brain tissue. The inside of his head continued to burn away: all the nerves on the left were gone in two years, paralyzing that side of his face.

However, Bugorski survived and even completed his Ph.D. There was virtually no damage to his intellectual capacity, but the fatigue of mental work increased markedly. Bugorski completely lost hearing in the left ear and only a constant, unpleasant internal noise remained. The left half of his face was paralyzed, due to the destruction of nerves.He is able to function perfectly well, save the fact that he has occasional petit mal seizures and very occasional grand mal seizures.

Needless to say he didnít develop Super Powers like in the comic books and didnít die. The dividing line of his life goes down the middle of his face: the right side has aged, while the left froze 19 years ago. When he concentrates, he wrinkles only half his forehead.

Bugorski continued to work in science, and held the post of Coordinator of physics experiments. Because of the Soviet Unionís policy of maintaining secrecy on Nuclear power-related issues, Bugorski did not speak about the accident for over a decade. He would go to the Moscow radiation clinic twice a year, for examination, and to commune with other nuclear-accident victims. For years, he remained a poster boy for Soviet and Russian radiation medicine.

In 1996, he applied for disabled status, to receive his free epilepsy medication. Bugorski showed interest in making himself available for study to Western researchers, but couldnít afford to leave Protvino and go west.


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