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11 Brilliant Scientist Tattoos

GeekyTattoos.com
GeekyTattoos.com

We’ve brought you literary tattoos, math tattoos and librarian tattoos, but now it’s time to take a look at the tattoos of scientists. From astronomers to biologists and from physicists to geographers, these tattooees do a great job at representing the wide array of scientific pursuits.

Special thanks to Carl Zimmer and his fantastic book Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed, which is where many of these great pieces came from.

1. Paleontology

Trevor has many geeky tattoos, including three directly related to his paleontologist position at the Page Museum, where scientists excavate, clean, study, and mount fossil samples found at the La Brea Tar Pits in LA. He has a frontal view of a Sabertooth Cat skull on display at his museum, the logo of the museum he works for (at top) and the logo of the of the Page Museum's parent museum The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Now that’s some paleontology pride!

2. Schrödinger’s Cat

Fergus is a medical physicist who works with Ionising radiation. He’s also particularly fascinated by the Philosophy of Physics, which is why he got this Schrödinger’s’ cat tattoo, which he believes “shows the concept of uncertainty extremely well.” As if a mere Schrödinger’s cat tattoo wasn’t cool enough on its own, notice that he also included a radiation warning symbol and that the box is, fittingly, one of the impossible variety, as designed by M.C. Escher.

3. Strebe Projection

Geographer Marina Islas has a map of the world on her back, which is very appropriate, given her profession. “It is a Strebe equal-area projection, polyconic," she says. "It took me a year to figure out which projection I wanted to live with for the rest of my life and I stumbled upon the Strebe projection. It’s very organic in shape and I appreciate that it is Afro-centric and not Euro- or Amer-centric.”

4. Equations

Adam Simpson works at the National Center for Computational Sciences and while Newton's second law of Motion and Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence might not directly relate to computers, they’re certainly some of the most famous scientific equations ever devised.

5. Neurons

Brazilian biologist Pato Gabriel got a network of neurons tattooed over his shoulder in order to represent the circuitry of the human brain.

6. Dopamine

Heather got the chemical compound of dopamine tattooed on her side after she started working in a behavioral neuroscience lab. If only getting a tattoo of dopamine actually helped feed it into your system, a whole lot of people would stop hitting the pharmacy and start hitting the tattoo shop.

7. Italian Wall Lizard

Russell Burke is a biologist at Hofstra University, where he studies, among other things, Italian Wall Lizards like the one he has tattooed here.

8. A Jellyfish

Dave Wolfenden is a lecturer at Reaseheath College in England, where he teaches about animal science. As a big fan of the jellyfish, it was only fitting he get a tattoo of the fascinating creature.

9. A Passionflower

While Sherrie Emerine studies invasive plants, she was inspired to get the vines of the passionflower tattooed on her leg because “the plant is really lovely and the flowers are botanically unique, and because it fulfills many of the requirements for ornamental plants, but has the benefits of native species.”

10. Halley's Comet

Kate Devitt is a memory researcher at Queensland University of Technology and her husband, Morgan Jaffit, is a game designer. The two have matching tattoos of Halley’s Comet based on the Bayeux Tapestry depiction of the comet just before the 1066 Norman Conquest.

11. A Spaceship

Bobby Magee, aka Flickr user Spacemanbobby, got this great tattoo of a spaceship traveling through the galaxy as his second tattoo. Fittingly, Bobby is an astronomer and ex-rocket scientist, although he is currently working on computer networks. In case you’re wondering, his first tattoo shows a twist in the fabric of time.

Now it’s your turn to share any great geeky ink you have with the world, whether you’re a scientist with tattoos or anyone with a science-related tattoo. Post a picture or a link to your picture in the comments.

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Scott Butner, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Look Up! The Lyrid Meteor Shower Arrives Saturday Night
Scott Butner, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Scott Butner, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning, but this weekend, look up and you might see several of them. Between 11:59 p.m. on April 21 and dawn on Sunday, April 22, the Lyrid meteor shower will peak over the Northern Hemisphere. Make some time for the celestial show and you'll see a shooting star streaking across the night sky every few minutes. Here is everything you need to know.

WHAT IS THE LYRID METEOR SHOWER?

Every 415.5 years, the comet Thatcher circles the Sun in a highly eccentric orbit shaped almost like a cat's eye. At its farthest from the Sun, it's billions of miles from Pluto; at its nearest, it swings between the Earth and Mars. (The last time it was near the Earth was in 1861, and it won't be that close again until 2280.) That's quite a journey, and more pressingly, quite a variation in temperature. The closer it gets to the Sun, the more debris it sheds. That debris is what you're seeing when you see a meteor shower: dust-sized particles slamming into the Earth's atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. In a competition between the two, the Earth is going to win, and "shooting stars" are the result of energy released as the particles are vaporized.

The comet was spotted on April 4, 1861 by A.E. Thatcher, an amateur skywatcher in New York City, earning him kudos from the noted astronomer Sir John Herschel. Clues to the comet's discovery are in its astronomical designation, C/1861 G1. The "C" means it's a long-period comet with an orbit of more than 200 years; "G" stands for the first half of April, and the "1" indicates it was the first comet discovered in that timeframe.

Sightings of the Lyrid meteor shower—named after Lyra, the constellation it appears to originate from—are much older; the first record dates to 7th-century BCE China.

HOW CAN I SEE IT?

Saturday night marks a first quarter Moon (visually half the Moon), which by midnight will have set below the horizon, so it won't wash out the night sky. That's great news—you can expect to see 20 meteors per hour. You're going to need to get away from local light pollution and find truly dark skies, and to completely avoid smartphones, flashlights, car headlights, or dome lights. The goal is to let your eyes adjust totally to the darkness: Find your viewing area, lay out your blanket, lay down, look up, and wait. In an hour, you'll be able to see the night sky with great—and if you've never done this before, surprising—clarity. Don't touch the smartphone or you'll undo all your hard ocular work.

Where is the nearest dark sky to where you live? You can find out on the Dark Site Finder map. And because the shower peaks on a Saturday night, your local astronomy club is very likely going to have an event to celebrate the Lyrids. Looking for a local club? Sky & Telescope has you covered.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON UP THERE?

You don't need a telescope to see a meteor shower, but if you bring one, aim it south to find Jupiter. It's the bright, unblinking spot in the sky. With a telescope, you should be able to make out its stripes. Those five stars surrounding it are the constellation Libra. You'll notice also four tiny points of light nearby. Those are the Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. When Galileo discovered those moons in 1610, he was able to prove the Copernican model of heliocentricity: that the Earth goes around the Sun.

THERE'S BAD WEATHER HERE! WHAT DO I DO?

First: Don't panic. The shower peaks on the early morning of the 22nd. But it doesn't end that day. You can try again on the 23rd and 24th, though the numbers of meteors will likely diminish. The Lyrids will be back next year, and the year after, and so on. But if you are eager for another show, on May 6, the Eta Aquariids will be at their strongest. The night sky always delivers.

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Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
iStock
iStock

GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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