Tattoos are an incredible, and indelible, way to make a statement. Sometimes that’s simply that you love parties and dolphins (like, a lot!!)… and other times it is a confession of how much you love science (my ♥ ≥ ∞). In 2007 Carl Zimmer, science writer for Discover Magazine, the New York Times and author of 6 books asked a question on his blog: “Are Scientists Hiding Tattoos of Their Science?” The answer has been overwhelmingly “yes!”
The answers and pics sent to Zimmer are now the subject of his book Science Ink and National Geographic’s fascinating Tattoo Emporium. Both the stories and the tattoos are often beautiful, charting a love affair with facts, the beauty of our universe and finding things out. Below are a few selections before you click over to the full collection.
(Above) Zach writes: “This is a half sleeve up my upper right arm based around an image taken by one of the CERN bubble chambers. It is based on this image. I first saw that image my freshman year of college. It had the sublime, simple beauty that only something made of math and science can have. It stuck with me for 8 more years before I actually decided to get it etched into me. Oddly enough, on Valentine’s Day. I guess it was my Valentine’s to physics and science. Oh, and when people ask who drew it, I always respond ‘God.’”
(Below) Marc Morency, Quartermaster 1st class, USN, writes:“My tattoo is the visual depiction of how to plot a line of position from a celestial body using the altitude intercept method, a method which has been time tested for more than a century. For me it serves as a reminder that while technology improves, the sea remains an unpredictable place and it is up to the older generation to teach the younger the old school ways of doing business.”
Loren, a biology graduate student, writes: “It’s a sketch of the horseshoe crab Limulus, such as a zoologist would make (and with the abdominal segments correctly identified). Perhaps the most magnificent living fossil of all, the horseshoe crab is the survivor of a lineage that extends back some 445 million years into the Ordovician. The four extant species are the only living representatives of the ancient arthropod class Merostomata and the only known chelicerate crabs.”
Alice writes: “This is an Aztec speech glyph that dates back before the conquest. I’m a linguist, and I believe this glyph embodies the impossible elegance of spoken language as well as the intrinsically artificial and cumbersome nature of written language.”
Mark writes: “This tattoo is the Zermelo-Fraenkel with Choice axioms of set theory. These nine axioms are the basis for ZFC set theory, which is the most commonly studied form of set theory and the most well known set of axioms as well. From these nine axioms, one can derive all of mathematics. These provide the foundation of mathematics, a field that you can likely tell that I love dearly.”
Milad writes: “I am a Mechanical Engineering undergrad at UC Berkeley and I got this tattoo about a month ago. It’s the golden ratio in the shape of a rectangle, with the ratio of the sides of the rectangle actually being the golden ratio! I have been obsessed with this number since I heard about it in high school, and it is the reason why I became so fascinated with mathematics. The golden ratio is known to be the closest mathematical explanation of beauty. It has been used a lot in architecture, art, and music around the world, and has some amazing mathematical and geometrical properties.”
Anonymous writes: “This tattoo is the schematic for the reference point of electricity. I just think of it as the source of electricity. Its really either the point at which you consider voltage to be 0, or in this pictures case, the physical connection to the earth (hence the lower calf). Electronics has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and I feel like this tattoo doesn’t do it justice. So I plan on getting another one to incorporate my passion for electronics and my trans-humanism beliefs.”
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