The big picture


Scientific poetry

If you should happen to stroll from the Oosterkade to Ledig Erf, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with Professor Leonard Ornstein, gazing down from the windowless side wall of the building at number 30. This blue mural relies on a cheerful, staggering fellow to illustrate the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process: a stochastic process, or ‘random walk’, in which an object makes a series of random movements over time. The principle of random movement is still used today to describe things such as stock-market fluctuations and the elasticity of rubber.

Physicists Ingmar Swart and Sander Kempkes hope that these wall formulas will raise awareness of ground-breaking scientific discoveries made in Utrecht. Another one can be found in Burgemeester Reigerstraat. Ingmar: ‘You might say that our murals are the physics equivalent of wall poems. The stories told by these formulas are every bit as interesting, relevant and important. They helped shape the society we live in today.’

There is no shortage of discoveries made in Utrecht and if Ingmar has his way, artists’ collective De Strakke Hand will paint several more of these murals before the year is out.

To learn more about the project, visit the Dutch website