The University of Nottingham's website on all things physics and astronomy, Sixty Symbols, sometimes takes reader questions and then makes a short YouTube film to give the answer. Recently, they addressed what turned out to be a surprisingly provocative and controversial question. What happens if you put your hand into the Large Hadron Collider, a 17 mile-long particle accelerator used for advanced scientific research? It turns out that, like so many things in life, no one really knows and everyone feels very strongly about it:
"I don't think you'd feel very much," says one physicist. Instant death, insists another. One suggests it would feel like 100 billion "pin pricks," which doesn't sound fun. How exactly would it feel to have the force of "an aircraft carrier moving at 11 knots" condensed into the size of a sub-atomic particle running through your hand? No one knows, it seems, and no one wants to find out.