On 13 April 2012, Tal Golesworthy presented at the annual Sigma Symposium at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. Tal’s paper was ‘The Exostent: simple is beautiful’. This year’s symposium had a theme of ‘Inside and outside the box’. Combining and contrasting novel, unusual research with established, esteemed studies, the symposium aimed to connect two extremes in molecular sciences.