The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, firing proton beams at nearly the speed of light around an underground ring 17 miles around, at a maximum energy level of 7 tera-electronvolts.
The accelerator’s experiments are designed to smash the proton beams together to simulate the conditions of the early universe, just after the “Big Bang,” the seminal expansion event that scientists believe birthed all matter.
So what would happen if you stuck your hand in the way of the beams?
“Your whole body would be irradiated, you’d die pretty quickly,” said David Barney, a scientist working on the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, one of six experiments running at the beam.
“I was not surprised,” videographer Haran told TPM via email, about the answers. “I think it makes sense that putting your hand in front of a very powerful beam of protons would be unwise. But it is nice to hear some explanation and fun to see them react to a question they didn’t necessarily expect.”
The full answers from Barney and his colleagues are darkly hilarious and worth watching in full in the video.