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“When I’ll graduate I’ll replace Newton on that wall!”, he said.

Sep 06, 2023

The gentleman who wanted to kick Newton out and change the mural on our world famous very traditional university facade was my roommate and we both studied food engineering together. Before I moved into that amazing shared apartment I was staying there many times over night because my last bus back home to the countryside left way too early for enjoying all the student parties in the city : ). Jürg Gujan was my wingman and partner in crime for all things life and school and going home from the party when the morning dawned and no, we never were a couple.

Every time we walked by that part of the main building of ETH, the technical university where even Einstein studied, Jürg looked up to all these scientists and proclaimed: When I’ll graduate Newton will be replaced by ME. No idea why Newton was the target but that was just his “joke” on repeat.

And I decided… “Buddy, I’ll make that happen for you…just wait!”

As I paused studying for a full year to learn Japanese and go to Japan for my internship for 6 months and Jürg took a break only for half a year for his internship (that was mandatory back then to work somewhere in the food industry) he was ahead of me with the final tests. I knew exactly when his very very last test would take place and prepared for that moment.

When I have an idea like this it’s just locked in and “works itself out” in my mind. Over 3 years I let it grow until I knew the date for Mister Gujans surprise.

I measured the length of the mural at the bottom of the building to define the size of the required sign to cover (not kick out) Newton with Jürg’s face… I drew the picture with a permanent marker in a little lecture hall with the overhead projector. Very manual: Take a pic of Jürg, make a black & white copy, copy it on a film to project it on my poster to then draw the lines…

The wooden construction to hold the “garland-name-part” was a simple batten (I totally had to look up this word ; )) and I decided that the second part of that garlande had to be the original. Otherwise it would have been too long to load into public transportation : ) : ).

I don’t remember if I asked the people of that particular office before I even started the production of the sign or if I presented them with a fait accompli? I bet it was the second. Lucky me they liked the effort and the story, so they let me hang this baby out of their window. Should I have tested this before? I didn’t… and it worked out perfectly. Still happy about how it looked!

Jürg was not so into me dragging him out of the building after his last test... I told all his mates who were also around before about my “plan” we were standing at that tram-stop right in front of the mural-facade and he said a little annoyed: “And now what!?” 

I had the biggest smile on my face when I told him: “Just look around!”.... And theeeen he saw it and he was really over the moon and so impressed by my execution. It was soooo worth it!! Happy happy me!

When I asked Jürg if I’m allowed to tell you all this story he smiled full on again and said: “Of course you can! That sign still hangs in my parents garage!”

This whole action took place 20 years ago. I love when memories stay so vivid in my mind.

The moral of the story? It’s a good reminder to do crazy things (I mean this is not too crazy, right? No jumping from rooftops or like this level of crazy). Let’s fulfill the silly and fun wishes of our friends. Let’s make things happen. Because we can! Because it’s fun for us and for them. Because making people smile gives us energy too. Win win : ) and good for the soul.

Now if you ever are in Zurich, go and ride up the hill with “Polybahn”, a little red cable car which is included in the day-ticket of Zurich public transportation. Then you can have a stroll over the Polyterrasse, a huge terrace with a great view over the whole city. You can walk into the main building of ETH which is quite impressive I think and when you take the exit on the opposite side and turn to the left and around the corner to the left again you’ll see Mister Newton unharmed on that mural wall : ).

Let’s make this world more colorful, playful and joyful.

Big hugs from Zurich,

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