AI: Show Me Your Tat

Not the tat in question, but equally cool.

The other night, I saw one of the coolest tattoos I’d seen in a long time. This guy had a full sleeve design of the Galapagos finches surrounded by native flowers completely covering his upper arm. It was ridiculously awesome.

Tattoos are one of the ways the usually sterile, boring nature of science and math can be transformed into an exciting, sexy, exhilarating subject. Carl Zimmer, a science writer who presented at NECSS last weekend, keeps a compilation of these delightfully geeky designs in a section of his blog, which he calls The Science Tattoo Emporium. There are a lot of them. He’ll be publishing a book with the contributions entitled Science Ink, to be released in October.

Do you have any science tattoos? What cool geek tattoos have you seen? Do you think that tattoos about science make the subject more badass, or are they just geeky and ill-advised?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.


  1. April 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I’ve seen a pi on the back of a neck. I liked that one. Simple, understaded, geeky.

  2. April 16, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I once saw a woman walking down the sidewalk with the Schrodinger wave equation tattooed on her arm. That was pretty unusual, I thought. I would have loved to been able to ask her about it.

  3. April 16, 2011 at 2:48 am

    On principle I have to take issue with the statement “the usually sterile, boring nature of science and math”. My impression was that MAL was about fighting this unfair stereotype, so I’m sure you only used the phrase unthinkingly. Yes, there is boring and sterile science and math, but that’s not either’s nature.
    I think sciency tattoos look fun, but personally I can’t think of a thing I’d like permanently etched on my skin. I like to have full freedom to change my mind about anything.

  4. April 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Yes, apologies for that wording. By using the terms “science and math” I was really referring to “the way science and math are portrayed.” I had considered editing the wording, and looking back, that’s what I should have done. I’d hope it would be clear that I don’t consider science and math to be boring by nature; otherwise my contributions to this site would appear to all be some extended form of masochism.

  5. April 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I have a Skepchick inspired tattoo with the retro atom design but I think I need more….

  6. April 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I have a star on my upper left bicep that was taken from my dad’s collector’s edition of the Lord of the Rings. Not a science tattoo, but very geeky and a nice tribute to my dad.

  7. April 17, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I don’t have any tattoos, but I have a friend who has a tattoo of the Pioneer star map. It is my favorite for some reason.

  8. April 17, 2011 at 11:56 am

    When (if) I finish my PhD, I plan on getting Newton’s Second Law tattooed on the inside of my left wrist. Since my entire career (mechanical engineering) is pretty much based on that one equation. 🙂

  9. April 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    My physics professor showed us href=”http://talklikeaphysicist.com/2009/tuesday-physics-tattoo-jonos-maxwells-equations/”this a few days ago:

    They are a tattoo of Maxwell’s equations, which describe electricity and magnetism.
    Sorry if the link doesn’t work, I’m new here.

  10. April 18, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Welcome to the lab nicolas!

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