Anatoli Bugorski, The Man Who Survived a Beam from a Particle Accelerator

From Wikipedia:

As a researcher at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, Bugorski used to work with the largest Soviet particle accelerator, the Synchrotron U-70.[2] On July 13, 1978, Bugorski was checking a malfunctioning piece of equipment when an accident occurred due to failed safety mechanisms. 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 “brighter than a thousand suns”, but did not feel any pain. The beam measured about 200,000 rads when it entered Bugorski’s skull, and about 300,000 rads when it exited after colliding with the inside of his head.

The left half of Bugorski’s 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 500 to 600 rads is enough to kill a person, Bugorski was taken to a clinic in Moscow where the doctors could observe his expected demise. However, Bugorski survived and even completed his Ph.D..[3] There was virtually no damage to his intellectual capacity, but the fatigue of mental work increased markedly.[2] Bugroski completely lost hearing in the left ear and only a constant, unpleasant internal noise remained. The left half of his face was frozen, due to the destruction of nerves, and does not age.[1] He is able to function perfectly well, save the fact that he has occasional petit mal seizures and very occasional grand mal seizures.

More pictures here (the article is in Russian)

(via Digg)


  1. Wow. You know, with a story this outlandish, one would almost expect him to become a superhero with amazing mutant powers. They would call him: the accelerated man! Bom bom baaaaaaam bom…bum, bum bum, bum, bum!

  2. In the US, you stumble over your own feet and fall on your ass and it’s worker’s comp or a million dollar lawsuit…

    In the USSR, you do your job, and a failed safety mechanism shoots a proton beam to your noggin, turning you into an epileptic Elephant Man. That whole Workers’ Paradise thing didn’t quite pan out, did it?

  3. I am rendered speechless by this story. Absolutely incredible.

    Some people die from an infected toenail or choking on a hair in goat’s milk. This guy TAKES A FRICKIN’ LASER THROUGH THE BRAIN and lives to tell about it.

  4. Wow, extremly interesting and pretty cool story for him to tell at parties.

    However I find it very hard to believe the claim about the left half of his face not ageing. Just because the nerves were damaged doesn’t mean the cells in that part of his face wont age. Thats like saying my legs wont age because I am a paraplegic.

    If it is true we might see some pretty radical treatments for ageing soon.

  5. “The beam measured about 200,000 rads when it entered Bugorski’s skull, and about 300,000 rads when it exited after colliding with the inside of his head”

    Out of the whole article this statement just stinks. Where in the world would the extra 100k rads come from? Brain does not produce radiation and if anything would reduce the amount through attenuation.

  6. @ Draakan: The collisions of particles within his head produces the extra radiation. That’s what particle accelerators are designed to do. By observing the radiation given off by collisions (among other things) we can determine the structure of the particles involved and even create new particles. Basically what I’m saying is you have no clue what you are talking about.

    Measuring in Rads is pretty odd though. I suppose when the initial reports were made it was still a common unit. Normally you’d say the energy of the beam in electron volts and the absorbed dose of radiation in Sieverts.

  7. He should turn blue, shiny, naked, and have omnipotent quantum mechanical powers.

    Or turn green and huge when he’s mad.

  8. He isn’t aging because they say his face is paralyzed, meaning since it is not moving, the skin is not forming wrinkles, which in turn is not damaging the surface. However, it would have to age somewhat, the sun is still out there, producing UVB and causing his skin cells to react to it.

Comments are closed.