Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the elements

Tattoos mark their wearers as members of a tribe. In the language and symbols of the tribe, the tattoo communicates what is meaningful: I prefer Harleys; I have killed three men; I know a lot about fonts...The symbols of science set the tattoo-wearer apart from the rest of us at the same time they draw us in with their beauty and mystery.

Mary Roach, from the forward of Carl Zimmer's book
Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed (2011)

i took the periodic table tattoo a few years ago - long before i started tattoo tuesday. my memory of mm's tat was jogged a couple weeks ago when i took the second photo which is the inside forearm of theresa, of last week's wonderful bird tat. by the way, since last week i learned the name of the book and illustrator of theresa's tat - alle voegel sind schon da (all the birds are already there) by ida bohatta-morpurgo. the book by the way is derived from a famous german children's song.

not surprisingly my friend with the period table tattoo was a chemistry major in college and is now pursuing a doctorate in an applied subfield of macromolecular chemistry. mm and his periodic table tattoo would be a suitable addition to carl zimmer's collection of photographs of scientific tats.

i first learned of zimmer's book and collection last fall when the new york times posted a slideshow of some of the images from zimmer's collection. the times piece corresponded with the release of zimmer's book. i forgot about zimmer's book until i started thinking of posting today's snaps.

how about a wee CoNtesT! the first to identify what the molecule on theresa's arm represents will win a fabulous prize (just comment your answer, if it isn't obvious on how to contact you - eg you are not an identified reader then email me [kyanoshik at gmail] your email/contact info)

tom lehrer's catchy and instructive song the elements - about the periodic table - cleverly animated by timwi terby


Alan Burnett said...

I once had a tie with the periodic table on it and at boring dinner parties I would sometimes be reduced to reading it. If you had the table printed on your arm, I suppose it would come in useful in Chemistry exams.

Gary said...

Looks like someone had a big chemistry test they needed a little boost to pass. Linda Ronstadt used to write answers on her upper thigh and the nuns were too embarrassed to stop her from looking during the test. See, I can work Linda into anything.

Anonymous said...

it is a very interesting and informative article. I think I will add your site to my favorites.

Charley2NA said...


mouse (aka kimy) said...

charley you are the WINNER.... i will be contacting you regarding your FaBulOus prize!!!!!

Steve Reed said...

That's a great tattoo -- it looks like the tattooist ran out of steam (or maybe room) on the Lanthanides and Actinides, though!

I was going to guess salt on the other tattoo -- oh well.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

steve - you are very observant!! mm told me that the table isn't complete and he's saving up to finish it....its been years and the tat still is missing some elements! oh well sometimes life happens and ink has to wait!