Several years ago, a friend of mine who had a long career as a commercial/industrial plumber related an anecdote about a colleague who was working at a power plant. He was in the vicinity of a high-pressure steam pipe, presumably part of the same circuit as the main turbines, when a leak from it severed two of his fingers. Apparently, the cut was so fast and clean that the colleague didn't even notice that they were missing for several minutes afterwards. There was no bleeding, as the heat instantly cauterised the wound.
At the time it sounded plausible to me, but I thought why not ask the local SE mythbusters? It's a nice interdisciplinary sort of question. There are quite a few aspects of this that I think demand closer inspection:
- Can someone really lose a digit and not notice for several minutes?
- What sort of pressure / temperature would be required to achieve this?
- Do such conditions typically exist in the turbine circuits used in power plants?
- Are steam pipe failures of this type common, or even plausible?