Discovery Magazine’s dizzying assortment of blogs include The Loom, written by science author and Yale lecturer Carl Zimmer. I’ve culled a few of my favorites from his gallery of science-themed tattoos, The Science Tattoo Emporium. There are over 150 images, with each tattooed scientist, engineer, mathematician or wannabe explaining his or her tattoo’s meaning and personal significance.
Chemistry PhD from Cornell Tattoo: C. writes
I got this tattoo as an homage to the pain of my graduate work. It’s a model of fulvic acid which is a representation of natural organic matter in the soil. I work with this molecule for my grad work and I figured I might as well get it etched into my skin so I can look at it and say, ‘Well, at least it hurt less than grad school at Cornell.
MM, Quartermaster 1st class, USN, writes: “I have been fortunate enough to be paid by the government to get ships from pt. A to pt. B serving in the US Navy…. I was drawn to navigation when I joined. In my opinion, it is the only job in the military that is both a science and an art…. it is important for Navigators to remain proficient in the old ways to fix a ship’s position using a sextant and trigonometry. My tattoo is the visual depiction of how to plot a line of position from a celestial body using the altitude intercept method… it serves as a reminder that while technology improves, the sea remains an unpredictable place….”
“After much consideration, I decided to get an atom tattoo. But what atom? Given that I’m an graduate student in organic chemistry at the University of Michigan, carbon seemed like the obvious choice. It also has the advantage of being small enough not to look too crowded. I went for a retro 50’s Jetsons sort of look. Believe it or not, the general shape (though not the coloring) is based on a piece of Microsoft Office clip-art.”