A Giant Takes On Physics’ Biggest Questions

300 feet below Merlyn, Switzerland — The first thing that gets you is the noise. Physics, after all, is supposed to be a cerebral pursuit. But this cavern almost measureless to the eye, stuffed as it is with an Eiffel Tower’s worth of metal, eight-story wheels of gold fan-shape boxes, thousands of miles of wire and fat ductlike coils, echoes with the shriek of power tools, the whine of pumps and cranes, beeps and clanks from wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers and the occasional falling bolt. It seems no place for the studious.

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