Ten years since debris from the LHC’s first high-energy collisions sprayed through the ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb detectors, this issue of the Courier looks at the project’s scientific legacy so far and hears from the people who have kept these incredible instruments fighting fit. The LHC’s success is a lesson in long-term planning and it has parallels with the quest to detect gravitational waves – another focus of this issue. In 1987, when a planning group set up by the CERN Council recommended a high-luminosity proton–proton collider for CERN, LIGO had just been founded as a Caltech/MIT project. Site construction for LIGO began in 1994, the year the LHC was approved, and, two decades later, these two infrastructures made history with the direct discoveries of the Higgs boson and gravitational waves. Now, with the LHC and LIGO both undergoing major upgrades, physicists are pitching for a Higgs factory and a third-generation gravitational-wave interferometer to exploit these epochal discoveries to the full.