It was a university research project that got out of hand. When a student at California’s Stanford University, Larry Page, proposed to index the world’s information across the web he spawned overnight millionaires and created one of the largest and most valuable companies in the world: Google.

These days, Page’s university start-up is unrecognisable. His idea has morphed into one of the slickest advertising machines in history, generating over $136bn (£105bn) in revenues last year.

As its growth accelerated into the stratosphere, Google’s bosses realised they did not want its legacy to end there. Billions were pumped into a string of other research projects – from space elevators to complex robotics…

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