Sunday, November 20, 2011

Science Tattoos - Wear What You Love

I'm used to thinking of tattoos as having more "artistic" or "aesthetic" or even "creepy" themes, but I stumbled across the book, Science Ink, by Carl Zimmer, yesterday and I have learned something new. Apparently a lot of scientists wear their enthusiasms on the sleeve--or arm--or back--or leg.

Carl Zimmer saw a scientist he respected relaxing at a pool one time and noted his tattoo. With his scientific mind, Zimmer began researching this phenomenon, and turned up a range of skin art.

There are animals represented, some living, some extinct. Some formulas, from E=mc2 and on, are gracing scientist skin. There are neurons and Tesla motors (not the car company), mass spectrometers, frog skeletons, trees of life--you name it and someone out there is wearing it.

The book is beautifully presented, and actually explains what the tattoos mean--both to the wearer and to science itself, so it's kind of an education, too. Zimmer writes the blog, The Loom, for Discover magazine online, so he knows of what he speaks, and he speaks clearly to laymen.

An extra treat is the Foreword by Mary Roach, who has written several fascinating and also hilarious books on sex, death, space travel -- from a scientific but also practical perspective. Her most recent one is Packing for Mars. I have an autographed copy from when I met her recently.

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