How do you declare your undying love for science? How do you immortalize your doctoral dissertation? How can you let the world know about your eternal love affair with tardigrades, Euler’s Identity, caffeine, or the voyager spacecraft? If you answered any of these with “get a tattoo!” than you’ve probably already heard about Science Ink: Tattoo’s of the Science Obsessed, by Carl Zimmer.
Over the last several years, Zimmer has been compiling scientists’ tattoos at the Science Tattoo Emporium, which now contains 255 pieces of ink. In Science Ink, Zimmer has selected the best looking, most memorable tattoos from his online collection and published them in a beautiful book featuring both artwork and insight into each piece.
Zimmer is among the best of the “science communicators”, those who distill the essence of important concepts into comprehensible units. Each tattoo come with either a description of the story behind its origin, its meaning to the canvas, or the fundamentals of the concept it represents. The book covers an extensive range of topics, from mathematics to natural history to physics and astronomy. When I first heard about this project, I was expecting a coffee-table style book of tattoo photographs, but it is much more than that. The tattoos are simply prompts for a deeper exploration into the meaning of science to society, as well as a delightful collection of (very) short stories about individuals experience in science.