In Praise of Mistakes [Science tattoo]

penicillin tattoo440Andrew, a medical student, writes,

“I recently got a tattoo of Penicillin G on my arm.  As someone who stumbled into medical school as a non-traditional student after a few career missteps, I appreciate a good mistake.  There are few mistakes that were as amazing and important to medicine as the ‘discovery’ of Penicillin.  Had Alexander Fleming remembered to close his laboratory’s window, who knows where we would be in the fight against infectious disease?”

In case you missed my announcement over the summer, the Science Tattoo Emporium is going to become a book. Tentatively entitled Science Ink, it will be published next fall by Sterling. The images will be accompanied by some of my own reflections on the tattoos, in which I will unpack the inside jokes and strange histories of the science behind the pictures.

The ultimate purpose of the book, like the Emporium, will be to illustrate the passion that science can inspire. To that end, I also plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from the book to DonorsChoose, a great organization that funds science projects in the classroom.

To those who have already appeared in the emporium, and to those who have kept their sleeves tightly buttoned till now, I’d like to extend an invitation to submit your photograph. If you’re interested, please contact me for the instructions from my publisher.

Update: You can see the rest of the Science Tattoo Emporium here or in my book, Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

0 thoughts on “In Praise of Mistakes [Science tattoo]

  1. … though of course, the history of penicillin is a lot more than that bit of serendipity, it was the very careful, methodically and deliberate work of Florey et al.

  2. Hi Carl,
    I found your blog this morning and blogged about you. I’m the Guide to Continuing Education for, part of The New York Times Company. Loved the story about Andrew’s tattoo.


    Deb Peterson
    Guide to Continuing Education

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *