The Light Of A Thousand Suns
THIS MORNING WE GOT WORD THAT A FRIEND OF OURS HAD AN ACCIDENT while visiting England. She is fine, just a cut finger that netted her two stitches and a visit to a British ER. She was lucky. Very lucky compared to Anatoli Bugorski.
Anatoli Bugorski, now retired, was a high powered Russian Scientist who, in 1978, had an accident of his own. For him two stitches in his thumb weren’t going to make it “all better.”
Anatoli was a research scientist at the “Institute for High Energy Physics” – the home of the largest Soviet Particle Beam Accelerator, the “U-70 Synchrotron.” That sounds impressive and even a bit like something out of Dr. Who. In July of 1978 Anatoli was checking on some malfunctioning equipment in the Accelerator. Like a repairman working on a balky dishwasher he had to open the door and get inside to fix the darned thing. That was when he got more than a cut thumb. A lot more.
Somehow Anatoli’s knee or his monkey wrench accidentally hit the “ON” button and his head got in the way of a “76 Gev Proton Beam” moving at nearly the speed of light. I don’t know exactly what that means, but it doesn’t sound like some Coppertone Suntan Lotion would be enough to protect you.
Anatoli said that he saw a flash of light “Brighter than a thousand suns”, but no pain. That sounds a lot like Las Vegas on a Saturday night filled with $2.00 Margaritas. He may not have felt any pain, but his head knew something was wrong. His face swelled up, skin peeled, and he went deaf in his left ear. Again, a lot like Las Vegas. The fact that he was still alive and not burned to a nice toasty crispness was the most amazing part.
After his little Star Trek adventure and his face stopped bloating and peeling, Anatoli went back to work. He went back to school and got another Ph.D, and eventually became the man in charge at the Institute. That meant that since he was now The Boss he no longer had to stick his head in the oven.
Considering that the Proton Beam shot right through his brain with enough radiation to turn Anatoli into a Rotisserie Chicken I’d say that any problems he eventually encountered could be classified as minor. For cryin’ out loud this happened in July 1978 – the same month that “HelloDolly” closed on Broadway – and this guy is still alive and kicking.
When I hear about things like Anatoli and his high speed brain-slap I am able to realize how fortunate I
have been when I have done some truly dumb stunts and managed to walk away unscathed, or scathed but still alive. I have never had anything go through my brain at the speed of light, not even light. When something gets into my brain it reacts like it is going through a school zone. Everything slows down to a crawl and any ideas that might be present stop and wait for that “light of a thousand suns” to turn green.
Reading about Anatoli I saw in his bio that he married and has a son. I couldn’t confirm the rumor that his son, Pete, glows in the dark.