What Would Happen If You Peed Into a Particle Accelerator?

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I have visited CERN and they have sections of the accelerator you can look at. It's a mess—to you and me—wires and tubes. This has not been built for consumers. There's no pink model; there will not be a thinner and lighter 2.0; and Nike is not sponsoring a limited edition line. In other words—no safety measures in place for rogue urinators.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Chances are you'd electrocute yourself, or get caught up in a web of wires with your flies open. It would be easier (and safer) peeing inside a combine harvester.

It's smaller than you may think. The pictures you see are almost always the impressive sensor sections, like Atlas. Most of the tube is about one metre in diameter and the main tunnel is just 3.8m.

What Would Happen If You Peed Into a Particle Accelerator?

Don't Eat the Yellow Snow

When you are in the tunnel, assuming the machine is fully operational, you'd be chilly— and no one likes to pee in the cold. At minus 271.25 °C, it's so cold you could drink and wee helium in its liquid state, if only you weren't frozen solid.

You would look something like this, except with hands forever clutching at yourself, like a teenager frozen in the act of jerking off when mother walked into the room.

What Would Happen If You Peed Into a Particle Accelerator?

So that's a problem.

A Mutual Attraction

Let's take another run at it and assume that you could somehow withstand the zero point temperature. Would you feel anything (except stupid) standing there with Jon Thomas in your hand; or balancing, knees akimbo, trying to line-up Jane Toots if you are a girl?

Here's a question for you: Do you have a pacemaker, screws in any joints, war shrapnel, a metal skull-cap, or genital piercings? Are you wearing a belt, earrings, dog tags, a watch? If you were, you would notice something as those Tevatron magnets, which are 100,000 times stronger than the earth's magnetic field, pull at them, and not necessarily outwards. Assuming the perfect "pee-position", lined up with the centre of the tube, I estimate the metal would find its way to the base of your scrotum in just a few seconds. When you moved, the magnets will want to hold that stuff in place.

Beam Me Up

What about that high powered beam of protons travelling almost the speed of light? Marq Hwang alerted me to a Russian scientist who experienced a proton beam to the head. Although Anatoli Bugorski felt no pain, he did require treatment later for burns, radiation and swelling. As Marq says:

The thought of a tiny, narrow path of dead tissue through one's pecker is a little... sad-making.

Thanks, Marq. Sounds horrible. Now double that image—there are two beams at CERN—the other enters from behind.

Your Cartoon Moment

For the sake of argument, imagine that you avoid electrocution and do not freeze to death; that the magnets don't move chunks of metal around your insides; you dodge millions of protons; escaping arrest and prosecution. Let's assume that your pee contains antifreeze and could get far enough into the accelerator in a liquid (not a lollipop) state. What would happen?

This would be your cartoon moment. The golden shower short circuits the electronics. You'd suddenly get a lot warmer; your penis a smoking gun. Arrest and prosecution follows.

Well done—you just achieved infamy—please proceed to the next level.


What Would Happen If You Urinated Into a Particle Accelerator? originally appeared on Quora. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

This answer has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.