The Loom

Branded with Science

i-46d9899d17bd9c3662dd04fdbd70093c-datta crop.jpgThe other day I was pondering how scientists tattoo themselves with their science. I was at a pool party where a friend, Bob Datta, had jumped into the water with his kids. Datta is a post-doc at Columbia, where he studies genes in Drosophila flies. I noticed that Bob had a tattoo of DNA on his shoulder. At first I thought it was a generic snippet of the molecule, but then Bob told me that it actually represents, in the genetic code, his wife’s initials: EEE. Geek love in its noblest form. [For the gorey specifics, see Bob's comment below.]

Bob’s tatoo reminded me that I have seen other scientists festooned with their science. There was the mycologist whose arms were covered with a black mesh, which he explained to me was subterranean network of threads produced by the death cap mushroom. And then there was the developmental biologist whose arm is swathed in the image of the fish he studies. (He declined my request for a photo of the tattoo until he gets tenure.)

So I’m wondering now–have I bumped into the tip of a vast hidden iceberg, or do I just happen to know the few scientists with tattoos of their science? If anyone wants to send me a jpg, I’ll post it. If you’re worried about tenure, just let me know how the tattoo represents the object of your study. The more personal the link, the better (i.e., not a generic tattoo of pi).

Below the fold: the iceberg unveiled!

Update, 9/2/07: The response to my question has been so rabid that I’ve moved all the pictures to a Flickr set. Feel free to send me yours–either post in the comment thread, or email it to blog at carlzimmer dot com.

Update, 2/18/08: The tattoos are moving to a new home: Carl Zimmer’s Science Tattoo Emporium. The request for your science tattoo still stands.

Comments

  1. #1 JD
    August 6, 2007

    Once I gather up the funds for it, I’ll have a hydrogen atom on the back of my neck(if I remember, I’ll send in a photo when I get it) – http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y117/Leykial/atom.jpg

    – Physics student

  2. #2 Jim Lemire
    August 6, 2007

    just FYI – the death cap link actually links to the Genetic Code info on wiki

  3. #3 Carl Zimmer
    August 6, 2007

    Thanks–link fixed.

  4. #4 Mike Gray
    August 6, 2007

    A postdoc in my old lab had a friend (an E. coli geneticist) with a DNA tattoo as well. It was the lac operator. :-)

  5. #5 meerasedai
    August 6, 2007

    I don’t have it yet, but I plan on getting an infinite tessellation by Escher, of butterflies. I’m a computer scientist/aspiring researcher, and this will represent the intersection of math and biology that has become my interest. Maybe someday people won’t see my double major as such a schizophrenic move :)

  6. #6 Chad Orzel
    August 6, 2007

    A former student got a tattoo of a cartoon atom (like this)on the back of one of his legs. He told me that the first day after he got it, he went to rugby practice, adn was showing it to someone when one of the seniors on the team (also a Physics major) walked by.

    The senior looked at it, said “Oh, please. The Bohr model?” and walked off…

  7. #7 Caspar
    August 6, 2007

    I am a developmental psychologist specializing in infant cognition and once dated a auditory neuroscientist. We knew we would hit off when on our very first date we both agreed that the Necker cube, as well as being one of the most psychologically profound optical illusions there is, would make an excellent tattoo. So on our fourth date, we went and got matching copies.

    You see it happening here:

    http://www.loadofold.com/ade/necker1.html

    We didn’t stay together very much longer but both still love our tattoos. Especially, showing them off at conferences.

  8. #8 cleek
    August 6, 2007

    here’s my dromaeosaur (unfeathered)

    but, i’m a programmer, not a paleontologist, so i guess it’s not exactly my science. maybe i’ll get some C++ for the next one.

  9. #9 Tom @Thoughtsic.com
    August 6, 2007

    I used to have the positive/negative light rendition of a perfect circle on my back. But now it’s covered up by my wife’s hand print along with my son’s hand print.

    I’ve seen many scientists here with science-related tattoos. I’ll have to see if they will contribute. Some have planets and solar systems, others with DNA or other genetics-related tattoos. Oddly enough, it seems like almost all of the scientists I know have more tattoos than regular tattooed folk.

  10. #10 Shalini
    August 6, 2007

    I was thinking of getting a DNA tattoo once, but I’m squeamish.

  11. #12 Brock Tice
    August 6, 2007

    I knew a guy when I was at Tulane who had (as I recall) the Navier-Stokes equation tattooed on his arm.

  12. #13 Becky Oskin
    August 6, 2007

    I don’t if this counts as science-related, but Caltech’s Christof Koch has an Apple logo on his arm.

  13. #14 Lowk
    August 6, 2007

    My friend Beth (an applied mathematician, which is almost a scientist) has a tattoo that consists of the symbols for ‘there exists’ ‘a unique’ ‘Beth’ (i.e. the hebrew letter Beth):

    http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~lj237/uniquebeth.jpg

  14. #15 Mithras
    August 6, 2007

    Pinkhaired Girl, a CS Ph.D. student, has this tattoo.

  15. #16 Grant
    August 6, 2007

    In the first pic, I see 12 base pairs, and there are 3 letters in “EEE”. Did he incorporate a start or stop codon sequence in there too?

  16. #17 Gina
    August 6, 2007

    I’m not a scientist, but I have a molecule. One day, it would be nice to be a scientist.

    http://pics.livejournal.com/copywriterbean/pic/0000r918/

  17. #18 JD
    August 6, 2007

    Joshua: ha! I usually remember to mention where I got the idea, guess it was a little early in the morning. I’ll get it on my forehead when I become a big blue god-like physical anomaly.

  18. #19 vandalhooch
    August 6, 2007

    Back when I still worked as a Fisheries Technician, I had a brook trout tattooed on my calf. (No pics available at the moment.)

  19. #21 Bob Datta
    August 6, 2007

    I knew someone in this crowd would ask about the 12 bases but three codons thing! So, 3 codons don’t give you two turns (wanted to approximate real DNA dimensions), so I needed at least four codons, all of which in this case are E (the single letter code for glutamate). E translates into GAG or GAA (I went with GAG GAA GAG GAA for variety), and used the colors green for G and amber for A. The complementary bases were coded C=Cyan and T=Tomato Red (ok, a bit of a stretch). So, you can see from the left – following one strand – Green Amber Green Green Amber Amber, etc.

    My wife’s first name is Eliza, and is known affectionately as Li, so I’m thinking seriously of getting a second tattoo (the first was her engagement present to me in exchange for the ring) of a Bohr model of a lithium atom. Helps too that we have two kids (so 1 Li + 1 Theo + 1 Jasper = 3).

  20. #22 Willo the Wisp
    August 6, 2007

    I was going to get a tattoo of the constellation of Orion to look like a group of freckles on my left inner forearm, going so far as to pay a deposit, book an appointment and submit a design, but my husband passive-agressived me out of it as he doesn’t like tattoos. The sacrifices we make. :/

  21. #23 Dan
    August 6, 2007

    This might make us too easy to round up when Ken Ham decides to put us in camps. I don’t want to end up a lamp shade in the cretinist museum.

  22. #24 Ryan
    August 6, 2007

    I have a resistor symbol tattooed to my wrist because I’m a tech geek and used to play in a punk band. It was our symbol… haha “resist”. Yeah. So I basically have a pun tattooed to my wrist.

  23. #25 luckylindy
    August 6, 2007

    this is my atp tattoo.
    http://areyouinorout.livejournal.com/107434.html
    my professors loved it when i was in school, but always made sure to remind me about academic dishonesty and tucking in my shirt on exam days.

  24. #26 sciencebystander
    August 6, 2007

    You can find lots of science/geek/tech tattoos on http://www.bmezine.com in their tattoo galleries. It has become quite a standard rite of passage!

  25. #27 Richard
    August 6, 2007

    I’ve got to get one of those Darwin tats. Or maybe the “A” symbol.

    Has anyone seen a good one of a “freethinking” symbol?

    Richard
    http://lifewithoutfaith.com/

  26. #28 Jordan
    August 6, 2007

    At Reed College in their Chemistry department, there are photos of all the seniors who thesised in the department going back to the late 80s. In one photo, a student has the Schrödinger Wave Equation tattooed on his uppper arm.

  27. #29 Carl Zimmer
    August 6, 2007

    The ninth tattoo, FYI, comes from Troy Roepke, who emailed it to me with a note:

    “Greetings! Here’s a pic of my science tat. I studied sea urchin development for my dissertation. Upon completion 2 yrs ago, I awarded myself this tat for my academic achievement. The tat is of a sea urchin egg, 2 cell embryo, blastula, gastrula, prism stage and pluteus larval stage. Or as my friend’s say, an orange developing into an Alien face-grabber.”

  28. #30 Lily
    August 6, 2007

    I’m a med student, so these aren’t directly related to that, but I thought I’d share anyway (apologies for the blurriness):

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=4znsaoi

    The Darwin fish, and a purple pansy (freethought).

  29. #31 Carl Zimmer
    August 6, 2007

    Lily [30]: Your link doesn’t seem to work.

  30. #32 Viscount
    August 7, 2007

    I’m just a grad student, but what the hell. Nothing says “SCIENCE!” quite like the Bohr model.

    http://imagesocket.com/view/bohr5b3.jpg

  31. #34 knobody
    August 7, 2007

    in a former life i graduated with bs’s in microbiology and zoology. i worked for a short time as a lab monkey in a plant path lab doing microscopy. someday, if/when i find my brain again, i intend go to gradual school and do something with molecular biology. before i graduated, i committed my love of biology to ink and flesh.

    this is my tat: http://gallery.farthinghalearms.com/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=4957&g2_serialNumber=1
    it is representative not only of my interest in genetics, but it also contains my and my husband’s initials. (awwwwww)

    interestingly enough, just last night i posted on my own blog about the history of my current ink and the prospects for future tats. i haven’t figured out what they will be yet, but there will be at least three more (or one large one).

    p.s. do you know how hard it is to take a picture of the side of one’s own ankle while holding said appendage off the ground so no one can see my dirty kitchen floor in the background?

  32. #35 Rick MacPherson
    August 7, 2007

    i give you honu, the hawaiian green sea turtle on my marine biologist leg… oh the sweet pain…

  33. #36 Greta Christina
    August 7, 2007

    Neat! I do feel a little unoriginal now, though — I’ve been planning to get a DNA tattoo for some time now (expensive project, since I want it to go all the way up my arm, down my back, and down my leg), and now I feel like I’ve been scooped.

    None at the moment, though. Current tattoos are either literary or historical: a labyrinth on my sternum, and a Jabberwock on my arm.

  34. #37 Lily
    August 7, 2007

    Wrong link I guess, try this one:
    http://i19.tinypic.com/4znsaoi.jpg

  35. #38 outeast
    August 7, 2007

    Greta, what does a jabberwock look like? (is it anything like a boojum, say?)

  36. #39 grendelkhan
    August 7, 2007

    outeast: It might be something to do with John Tenniel’s version, though of course one’s interpretation of the poem is up for grabs.

  37. #40 bug_girl
    August 7, 2007

    I have quite a collection of insect tattoos on my right arm, starting with a cicada when I finished my PhD.
    Thanks for the photos!

  38. #41 Kevin Z
    August 7, 2007

    Great idea Carl,

    I have several tatoos, all done before science was ever a spark in my mind. One is of two Kraken (although they were dragons when I got them done. But since I am a deep-sea biologist, they are now Kraken). The other is the Biohazard sign. I posted them on my blog here.

  39. #42 Greta Christina
    August 7, 2007

    “Greta, what does a jabberwock look like?”

    I took my tattoo from the original Tenniel illustration, minus the background. The artist had to adapt it somewhat to make it tattoo-friendly (all that cross-hatching would just turn to soup), but it’s a remarkably faithful translation. And it looks really, really terrifying. Here’s a link: not to my tattoo, of which I don’t currently have any pictures online, but of the original Tenniel drawing.

    And while I’ve passionately loved both this boook and this drawing since I was very young, I somehow never noticed until I got the tattoo that the Jabberwock is wearing a vest.

  40. #43 Dave
    August 7, 2007

    Check out http://www.inkedinc.net for a community of professionals with tattoos, including scientists.

  41. #44 jtdub
    August 7, 2007

    Re: lindy #25

    Yowza.

  42. #45 Lisa Felske
    August 7, 2007

    I have a small paramecium on my back. Picture is a bit blurry, but it was taken by my 5-year-old. She can even name some of the features like cilia and the oral groove.

  43. #46 Sandra
    August 7, 2007

    Here’s a neuron tattoo (not mine, but I’m thinking of getting something kinda like it):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/neurollero/45935669/

  44. #47 chaosgone
    August 8, 2007

    Those are cool tattoos. What a good idea, having tattoos to reflect your field of study.

  45. #48 David Harmon
    August 8, 2007

    I’m waiting for a programmable tattoo. now that would be ultimate geek cred!

  46. #49 Chris Cohen
    August 8, 2007

    I have a tattoo of an atom w/ electrons spinning around it —

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccohen/741313458/

    I picked it up on a trip to Costa Rica in 2000 and I’m looking to get a nice big new one soon.

  47. #50 robert
    August 8, 2007

    so how does that awesome DNA tattoo stand for “EEE” – as far as I know, the only nucleotides are A, T, G, C, and U. If some combination of those can form letters for some reason, how can that work? And, if so, how come the three series of four pairs are different?

    Just curious – as Dr. Datta would know infinitely more than myself…

  48. #51 Rob knell
    August 8, 2007

    robert – The one-letter code for the amino acid Glutamic acid is E, and it is coded for by GAA or GAG. I guess that some of the base pairs shown on the tat are meant to represent some combinations of those.

    R

  49. #52 Brent
    August 8, 2007

    @Robert/Rob

    Thats correct, but it looks like it says EEEE

  50. #53 Elise
    August 8, 2007

    I have Yggdrasil on my back. (just a link to the original picture, not my tattoo)
    I decided on Yggdrasil (versus Escher’s Moebeus Strip) partly because I love mythology, but also as it is a world tree supporting everything we know, much like mathematics is to our understanding of the world.
    Well, that, and because Roger Zelazny uses Ygg in his Chronicles of Amber.

  51. #54 Don
    August 8, 2007

    Sean Bonner, grand high kahuna of Metblogs, got himself the Flying Spaghetti Monster on a calf.

    http://www.seanbonner.com/blog/archives/002814.php

  52. #55 Adam Brown
    August 8, 2007

    I have a Japanese translation of “Free Electron” on the back of my neck. Actually, it literally translates to “un-encumbered child of the atom”

  53. #56 Carl Zimmer
    August 8, 2007

    To Robert [50] and others who are confused about Bob Datta’s tattoo: be sure to read his comment above.

  54. #57 Pdiddy
    August 8, 2007

    Once I gather up the funds for it, I’ll have a hydrogen atom on the back of my neck(if I remember, I’ll send in a photo when I get it) -

    Why don’t you put on your forehead? It will look even cooler!!!

  55. #58 mark c
    August 8, 2007

    sorta science: writer Harry Crews has a hinge tattoo inside his elbow. Ahhhhh simplicity….

    http://www.harrycrews.com/Personal/Video/i/miller-tattoo.jpg

  56. #59 Brigit
    August 8, 2007

    My hubby started his geek tattoo long ago but still hasn’t finished it. He already has a flame with characters that spell out mind inside. The plan is to get a Bunsen burner underneath the flame and then add psychoactive compounds but we’re still debating which ones. I’m into glutamate receptors so I want him to add GluR agonists but he likes more the GABA-acting drugs, oh well…
    I thought he was going to finish it up this summer but he decided he was going to finally cover his other arm with some ferocious-looking dragon. It’s still cool I guess.

  57. #60 Richard
    August 8, 2007

    I myself have a simple outline of a brain on my back.

  58. #62 coolio
    August 8, 2007

    Hey wow! that star of david is a scientific symbol? did.not.know.that.

  59. #63 Andrew
    August 8, 2007

    i think getting tattoos to represent a lover is a stupid idea, because at any time they could leave you/divorce you.

  60. #64 Voxx
    August 9, 2007

    Check out this link about the psychological significance of getting a tattoo and share your thoughts. http://www.voxx.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=177

  61. #65 lunartalks
    August 9, 2007

    I’m going to get Darwin’s words from the Origin ‘there is grandeur in this view of life’ tattooed above my ass, then when Mormons call I can jmoon at them in the porch.

  62. #66 shardcore
    August 9, 2007

    here’s mine:

    http://www.shardcore.org/images/tattoo.jpg

    electron micrograph of a pollen grain.

    no, i don’t suffer allergies, i just like micrographs…

  63. #67 Nedsferatu
    August 9, 2007
  64. #68 WmD
    August 9, 2007

    I couldn’t find a picture, but even Jeff Corwin has a tattoo related to his field.

  65. #69 Eric
    August 9, 2007

    Slightly less science-related, but I know a guy with Euclid’s Proposition 1.4 tattooed on his right buttcheek. Also a girl with a “Q.E.D.” lower-back tattoo. And a good number of people with tattoos in ancient Greek.

  66. #70 Ray Girvan
    August 9, 2007

    Not precisely scientific, but I did design my first tattoo mathematically using GrafEq: it depicts the interval function …

    (e^sqrt(x^2+y^2))/30000 + mod((sqrt(x^2+y^2) + arctan(y/x) + sin(x) + sin(x-y) + cos(y), pi) is less than pi/2.5

    …that is, two Archimedean spirals modulated by a 2D regular sinusoidal pattern, the whole clipped by a radial exponential function). Image here.

  67. #71 Grayce
    August 9, 2007

    How can I submit a science tattoo photo of my own?

  68. #72 Carl Zimmer
    August 9, 2007

    Grayce [71]: you can email the image to me, or put a link to an image in the comment thread. As I mentioned at the top, I’m really interested in tattoos that scientists get that illustrate something they study. (i.e., not just a pretty geometrical image)

  69. #73 Jeff
    August 9, 2007

    I’m a computer engineering student, and as I study a lot of math, I got Pi on my arm.

    Here is a picture of it

    Good luck with finding more tattoos!

  70. #74 Bu?ra
    August 9, 2007

    It could be quite good to have a pi symbol that is warped. Others are vey very ordinary.

  71. #75 Nedsferatu
    August 9, 2007

    “I’m really interested in tattoos that scientists get that illustrate something they study. (i.e., not just a pretty geometrical image)”

    I feel like I should explain then: I studied nanotechnology in school and got my enormous bohr atom during that time.

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/95/205751108_4960cd506a.jpg

  72. #76 amanda
    August 9, 2007

    I’m getting the first 11 fibonacci numbers and symbol Phi tattooed soon, I just have to decide where. (Right now it’s a debate between ankle and back of the neck.)

  73. #77 Steve Higgins
    August 9, 2007

    Just FYI, http://sciencetattoo.com now forwards to this post :) (well at least in a few more minutes it will – as soon as various servers update)

  74. #78 emil h
    August 9, 2007
  75. #79 Andrew Krause
    August 9, 2007

    I cleverly disguised my ‘science’ tattoo as yet-another-asian-character. I had the chinese words yu zhao tattooed over my spine just below the collar-line. Roughly translated (because as Inara says on that Firefly episode, “there are nuances of meaning) it means Cosmos. And just to really geek out – I got the idea from a report done on gravitation submitted to the International Geophysical Union.

    http://a775.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/01265/47/74/1265194774_l.jpg

  76. #80 DJ Analog
    August 9, 2007

    I guess this is loosely a branch of science…

    I was a philosophy major at one point, and while I eventually got my degrees in other fields, I never lost my fascination with the subject, and so my tattoo reflects it. It’s two brackets – { } – which in logic means “the empty set”, or, all possibilities are open.

    picture here

  77. #81 laur�n
    August 9, 2007

    I’ve got M1 on my right arm, next, I’m getting the Mandelbrot Set on my left arm.

  78. #82 FastEddie
    August 9, 2007

    Neat stuff. Carl, you could have earned enormous geek currency had you named your essay “She branded me with science.”

  79. #83 Mike
    August 9, 2007

    i’m a physics major and i have lots of tattoos, so i decided to get this one on my “joke” leg because my buddy did it for free as a portfolio piece.

    http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b374/tmike/alby.jpg

  80. #84 Doctress Julia
    August 9, 2007

    I have the Arecibo radio message on my left bicep…. I think it’s on my blog somewhere. Next I am getting scientific notation instructions of how to build and operate a record player (from Voyager probe). ;D

  81. #85 Nikka
    August 9, 2007

    A girlfriend and I got water molecules on our ankles after we took a year’s worth of gen chem in one summer. Mine’s the standard “ball and stick” model, while her’s is the electrostatic potential map of water. Still deciding on the design of my calculus one (formal definition of the derivative). I’m actually a biology/pre-med major, but calculus (though I love it now) was hard for me, hence the celebratory tattoo.

    The periodic table up there is amazing. :)

  82. #86 Ozzie 3.14
    August 9, 2007

    Its quite awesome to see nerd tattoos. A few years ago I decided to start a sleeve with mathmatical related tattoos. Once I get the pieces colored in I am going to get the digits of pi as a background filler.

    http://flickr.com/photos/10043638@N05/sets/72157600827136825/

  83. #87 Mikey Sklar
    August 9, 2007

    Earlier this year I had a 8″ ruler tattoo’d to my right arm. It has been quite useful in building. I only wish I had used my non dominant hand and been in a more relaxed position during the tattoo process.

    http://screwdecaf.cx/forearm-ruler.html

  84. #88 Paul Riddell
    August 9, 2007

    I really need to get a good photo of mine: back at the end of 1991, shortly after an article I’d written about the Burgess Shale appeared in print, a tattooist friend begged to buy a book I had on building stop-action models, and I joked “I’ll trade you a tat for it.” Amazingly enough, he took me up on it, so I now have an Anomalocaris on my right shoulder. I’m thinking about going back for more, because a left shoulder bereft of a Nectocaris is an absolute shame.

  85. #89 Kristin
    August 9, 2007

    This was a graduation present to myself. It came to me during a genetics lecture and I got it done 3 years later. It goes ankle to mid thigh. I’m a geneticist now and LOVE it. Genetics stole my heart. P.s. It codes for a snippet of an exon from the sonic the hedgehog gene.

    http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y102/strykerdust/?action=view¤t=bostonglobe1.jpg

    http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y102/strykerdust/?action=view¤t=legback3a.jpg

  86. #91 Great White Snark
    August 9, 2007

    Pretty comprehensive collection. I found another double-helix tattoo on this lady:

    http://www.greatwhitesnark.com/2007/06/08/more-differences-between-geeks-and-nerds-tattoos/

  87. #92 Justin H.
    August 10, 2007

    $20 says that Eric (post #69) is/was a St. John’s College student.

  88. #93 Patrick
    August 10, 2007

    Great post! I’ve linked it from my tattoo blog, here:

    http://inklusion.blogspot.com/

  89. #94 Andrew
    August 10, 2007

    Justin H., I was thinking exactly the same thing.
    So, I’m not taking that bet, because you and I obviously are/were also!

  90. #95 Leigh
    August 10, 2007

    When I was a PhD student in philosophy, I did a lot of work in philosophy of science. Not science proper, but after all, philosophy was (and is) the beginning of science. ;)

    Anyway, my tattoo is a riff on the history of both science and philosophy– the hermetic symbols for the Philosopher’s Stone (sulfur + mercury + salt, and some sort of time designation). Yep, that’s right, alchemy.

    Here it is.

  91. #96 Anderson
    August 10, 2007

    Afff. velho s tem lixo neste site rdculo

  92. #97 Matt G
    August 10, 2007

    Leigh, I never would have bought that philosophy was a science either, until I started to wash out in Symbolic Logic as a freshman Philosophy major at UT.

    Alas, my BS in Criminal Justice really affords me no good scientific symbol.

  93. #98 Thursday
    August 11, 2007

    The Significant Other and I were contemplating her next tattoo… She’s decided to go with a cutting instead of a sucrose molecule.

    Nothing to do with science, but it’s the punchline to the Taoist tale “The Vinegar Tasters”. And the molecule can be read in any language!

    http://www.dynamicbalancingtaichi.co.uk/Vinegar%20tasters.htm

    Not the best reading of the legend, but you’ll get the idea.

  94. #99 Rae
    August 11, 2007

    I’m a Chemical Engineer. Amongst my other tattoos, I have a pair (one on each side) on my ribcage. Sigma and Pi. Molecular orbitals are my friends… In the same vein, my cat is called Ion (as in Schroedinger’s Cation) :-p

    A good friend of mine, a Mechanical Engineer, has her favorite gear on her shoulder… and my Biochemist friend has delta +/-

  95. #100 arne
    August 12, 2007

    I have a friend who’s a Biologist (working on circadian rhythms) and has this (http://www.recycle.dpw.dc.gov/recycle/lib/recycle/RecyclingSymbolGreen.JPG) symbol tattood on his chest, circling the left-hand side nipple.

  96. #101 heather
    August 12, 2007

    I have a small rattlesnake on the inside of my elbow – its a tiny thing, but I love it and it is appropriate (as I study snakes). I like that I can teach an entire term in short sleeves and most of my students don’t notice it (kind of like a well-camouflaged snake hiding in the grass!).

  97. #102 Christian
    August 14, 2007

    Milton Love has collected a whole slew of marine biologists and their tattoos at
    http://www.lovelab.id.ucsb.edu/Tattoos.html.

    I’m the rockfish on the first page of the galley.

  98. #103 Tristan
    August 15, 2007

    As the movie ‘Pi’ has now so clichely put it, “Numbers are the language of nature.” As a physicist, I always felt this was one of the most beautiful sentences in that language — a medley of the five most important numbers. Through an odd turn of events, this is actually my own handwriting from a bar napkin.

    http://www.rpgroup.caltech.edu/~natsirt/tatoo.jpg

  99. #104 Steve
    August 16, 2007

    Anatomy tattoo gallery:

    http://streetanatomy.com/blog/?p=132

    The first tattoo of arm musculature is amazing!

  100. #105 Ashton Applewhite
    August 17, 2007

    my partner and I each have a set of chromosomes on our right wrist; put them together and it’s a cell during meiosis (website with photo in the works). thus inspired, I’m collecting tattoos with significance shared by two or more people for a book to be called TATTOOS FOR TWO. (I’m a science writer and published author, and got Carl’s permission to post this request.) if you’d like to participate or know others who might, it would be great to hear from you: Ashton Applewhite (girl not boy, btw); 646-644-4040. thanks very much.

  101. #106 christina
    August 17, 2007

    This is amazing! A combination of two of my favorite things (science and tattoos) I have many tattoos but none in my field (microbiology) although I was definitely inspired by a set of plush toys of different bacteria I saw once..who knew staph could look so cute?

    On another note though (this would probably be the most appropriate place to try to get an opinion…) would you say that your colleagues are generally accepting of your tattoos?

  102. #107 Andre Lucato
    August 17, 2007
  103. #108 Madeline
    August 19, 2007

    http://www.weblogimages.com/v.p?uid=ariadne27&pid=493166&sid=fQV13boAK6

    My capsaicin tattoo on my hip. I’m a food scientist.

  104. #109 sirhcton
    August 20, 2007

    Well, tattoos may be nice, but will interfere with your donating blood. Many of us do regularly donate blood, don’t we? Remember the questions about tattoos and acupuncture? You do answer honestly, right?

    sirhcton

  105. #110 Andrew
    August 20, 2007

    Somewhat less daring than a tattoo, but a colleague of mine who also runs a jewelry store has started custom-designing DNA double-helix jewelry.

  106. #111 neil
    August 22, 2007

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/anauxite/1199928589/

    Huh. There must be some kind of axiom about Neils and trilobite shoulder tattoos. Well, Marrella isn’t a proper trilobite, but awfully close. I got the tattoo shortly after SJ Gould’s death. I had settled on the design before he died so it’s not quite an homage but I did lift the picture from Wonderful Life. The original figure is by Marianne Collins I believe. The Cambrian “c” was added later, my long-range plan was/is for a whole paleozoic sleeve but I ran out of funding soon. I’d also like to get more ‘stem’ taxa one of these days.

  107. #112 neil
    August 22, 2007

    p.s. Troy has my vote for best in show, tube-feet down, although that Haeckel tat has got me thinking…

  108. #113 Pax
    August 24, 2007

    My Galileo tattoo

    I’m in computers, but it’s a general sentiment.. I think it fits the thread. :)

  109. #114 knobody
    August 26, 2007

    sirhcton,

    while rules may be different in different places, here one has to wait for one year after a tattoo before donating blood again. i believe that is the fda’s rule, so would apply all across the u.s. i have one tattoo and am still a semi-regular blood donor.

  110. #116 sw
    September 2, 2007

    I don’t have a pic, but I have a friend who’s got the Fibonacci sequence tattooed up her leg. She’s a high school math teacher.

  111. #117 Otavio
    September 2, 2007

    My $\hbar c$ tattoo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/uthyr/1307884260/

    It synthesize the union of the Macro (Universe: c) and the Micro (Quantum: hbar) cosmoses.

  112. #118 Otavio
    September 2, 2007

    Cosmos*.

    I need more coffee!

  113. #119 Niles Ingalls
    September 2, 2007

    My tatoo if the Pioneer Plaque.
    http://www.atheos.net/images/pioneer.jpg

    background on the Pioneer space missions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_plaque

  114. #120 Niles Ingalls
    September 2, 2007

    My tatoo if the Pioneer Plaque.
    http://www.atheos.net/images/pioneer.jpg

    background on the Pioneer space missions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_plaque

  115. #121 miguel
    September 3, 2007

    Anybody know the name of the font used for the Eppur si muove tattoo?

  116. #122 Edie
    September 4, 2007

    I wrote an article about this post in my own blog. This is just to weird not to mention. I think my favorite so far is the periodic table.

  117. #123 Tamsin Cleo German
    September 5, 2007

    I work in science (cognitive science/neuroscience field), and about a year ago I got this DNA tattoo:

    http://i172.photobucket.com/albums/w25/CleoM/dna.jpg

  118. #124 Anton Sherwood
    September 6, 2007

    The hyperbolic plane (H2) is commonly represented in a mapping analogous to a stereographic projection of a sphere. I worked out a mapping analogous to Mercator projection, but have never seen it used; it preserves a line, and maps H2 to a strip. If I ever get a tattoo the most likely is a wristband based on this idea; perhaps a tiling of right-angled pentagons rendered as knotwork.

  119. #125 Steven
    September 7, 2007

    As an electronic engineer, I got a full-wave rectifier circuit diagram tattooed onto the back of my shoulder for my 30th birthday (actually got it done the day AFTER my birthday, complete with hangover!). Ive lost count of the number of job interviews where Ive been asked to draw this fundamental circuit, when you never actually have to make one yourself, you just buy em off the shelf. Next interview Ill just rip my shirt off instead; might not get the job, but at least theyd remember me!!

  120. #126 Valerie
    September 15, 2007

    Rather late (I found it off a link) and not exactly a scientist, but my calculus teacher has X/[infinity symbol]=0
    tattooed on his shoulder, which I think is pretty awesome.

  121. #127 Anji
    September 21, 2007

    my mandelbrot throat sleeve


  122. #129 Abie
    September 28, 2007

    I found this anatomically correct tatoo on a tatoo blog :

    http://horribletattoos.blogspot.com/2006/12/reproductive-system.html

  123. #130 Abie
    September 28, 2007

    Yet another science tatoo :
    http://www.evilbrainjono.net/cgi-bin/blog/showblog.cgi?permalink=314
    Maxwell equations

  124. #131 Daniel
    October 4, 2007

    Thank you for this astonishing collection of science tattoos…

  125. #132 Steve K.
    October 10, 2007

    Carl’s brother Ben made me aware of this thread and suggested I write in. I’m a lexicographer with a degree in linguistics; I have a phonetic vowel chart tattooed on my left shoulder blade. It was done in 1993, and it’s two-color, and actually looks lame, so I don’t have a photo of it anywhere.

    This New York Times article — http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/19/arts/19dict.htm — refers to it, but the writer and I agreed that the concept sounded neater than the actuality, so we didn’t show a picture of it and decided to let readers’ imaginations run wild.

    At some point though, I do want to get a new, enhanced one. That I’ll take a picture of.

    - Steve

  126. #133 CJH
    October 17, 2007

    I have an Ourobouros twisted into an infinity symbol on my wrist and this weekend I’m getting a simple line design of a shark on the back of my neck (small).

    This is the wrist one.
    http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a86/psychowackjob/13-07-07_1025.jpg

    PS. I’ve a degree in Marine Biology (sharks) but I am currently working in a microbiology lab as a scientist and tech. officer.

  127. #134 Glenn
    November 4, 2007

    Well I doubt if he’s a scientist, but he’s got an anatomically correct skull tattoo!
    http://bp3.blogger.com/_7VwpEsifZHs/Rav6g1IjzWI/AAAAAAAAAUE/sB_9u2E0b58/s1600-h/misfit-facial-tattoo_49.jpg

  128. #135 Tattoo Forum
    November 17, 2007

    There is a thread on the tattoo forum about this post. If anyone else has any pics of any unusual tattoo’s or any mnore pics like the ones in the comments then please put them in the thread cheers.

    the thread is here http://www.thetattooforum.com/science-tattoos-t7729.html

  129. #136 Henry Barth
    November 23, 2007

    The galileo.jpg tattoo “Eppur So Muove” located at:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/carlzimmer/1303533701/

    Should be tattooed across the man’s buttocks to make more sense.

  130. #137 CJH
    November 27, 2007
  131. #138 Greg Cronin
    December 20, 2007

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2254/2125611838_e6b2c863f4.jpg?v=0

    The seaweed Dictyota menstrualis with amphipods Ampithoe longimana crawling on it. The subjects of my dissertation, the amphipod feeds on and lives on the seaweed. Feeding by the amphipod induces the seaweed to produce higher concentrations of chemicals that protect the seaweed from grazers. Erik Sotka took the picture, and has worked on the evolution of this seaweed-herbivore pair.

    Carl: Love your books. At the Water’s Edge is required reading for my marine biology students.

  132. #139 e
    December 26, 2007
  133. #140 V.
    December 26, 2007

    I’m watching so nice crib sheets :P

  134. #141 robojoe
    April 2, 2008

    i got a similar one that I designed with my father upon graduating highschool. It spells family and uses symbols instead of colors.

  135. #142 Tattoo ED
    May 6, 2008

    For know all about Tattoo i recommand you to go vist this very great and complete tattoos forum:

    http://www.fantasmforum.com

    Regards

  136. #143 Dennis Wakeley
    May 23, 2008

    I like the idea of science tattoos… Science concepts have this natural built-in aesthetic to them. Pretty cool…

    Zimmers website is pretty nice imo.

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