The world's biggest machine is getting an upgrade and Bryan Appleyard of The Times gets a rare tour.

He looks a bit 1968 — beard, leather waistcoat, jeans — and his job title is downright hippie-psychedelic. Paul Collier is head of beams.

I meet him in a tunnel 91m below Switzerland, or maybe France. Down here, it's hard to tell. We are inside the biggest machine in the world, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27km ring beneath the villages and farmland on the Franco-Swiss border.

Luckily for me, this machine is not switched on. When it is, there is

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The LHC in numbers