The artwork by Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, depicts Russian nesting to capture the different scales of knowledge about the natural world, from the largest matryoshka doll that depicts our universe through the cosmic microwave background, the “first light” emitted soon after the Big Bang, to the smallest doll, the Planck scale, where spacetime becomes a quantum phenomenon.

“Our whole education is a process of confrontation between our imagination and the reality of established facts,” Institute Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf tells the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. “I think the greatest scientists have such an intense curiosity that they’re not discouraged by the current practice of the field and they push the boundaries of knowledge.”