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Though built to study the smallest known building blocks of all things the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest and most complex machine ever made. It has a circumference of 27 km (17 miles) and lies underground, straddling French and Swiss territory.

At full power, trillions of protons will race around the LHC accelerator ring 11,245 times a second, travelling at 99.99 percent the speed of light. It is capable of engineering 600 million collisions every second.

When two beams of protons collide, they will generate temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the sun, concentrated within a miniscule space. Meanwhile, the cooling system that circulates superfluid helium around the LHC’s accelerator ring keeps the machine at minus 271.3 degrees Celsius (minus 456.34 degrees Fahrenheit).

To collect data of up to 600 million proton collisions per second, physicists and scientists have built devices to measure the passage time of a particle to a few billionths of a second. The trigger system also registers the location of particles to millionths of a metre.

The data recorded by the LHC’s big experiments will fill around 100,000 dual-layer DVDs each year. Tens of thousands of computers around the world have been harnessed in a computing network called “The Grid” that will hold the information