Noting a colleague’s DNA-inspired tattoo at a pool party, science writer Zimmer (A Planet of Viruses) wondered how widespread the phenomenon of the inked scientist was. He solicited pictures for his blog, “The Loom,” and, inundated with photos and stories from scientists and laypeople alike, quickly became a curator of science-inspired body art. Mary Roach’s foreword lays out why, given the passion with which so many approach their fields, it should be no surprise to encounter this worldwide tribe whose obsessed love for every far-flung corner of science’s domain was marked permanently on their bodies. Divided into 13 sections, the book is filled with breathtaking color photos accompanied by grounding texts: Portuguese geneticist Dônovan Fereira Rodrigues, who got Isaac Newton’s “shoulders of giants” quote inked on his back, tells the story behind the phrase; August Kekule’s “discovery” of benzene’s structure inspired Virginia pharmacology PhD. Jeffrey Ikeda; a tattoo of Nikola Tesla’s visions of a wireless future lies on the arm of Abraham Orozco, the science director of a children’s community center in L.A. Genetics, neuroscience, and evolution (Darwin gets his own section) form the book’s modern cornerstones and the tattoos range from full back pieces and sleeves to little—often concealable—personal reminders. Encyclopedic in essence, Zimmer’s coffee-table art book presents a wealth of material.
The book is officially published on November 1, but one reader told me she had received hers in the mail already. I’ll post updates here on reviews and talks about Science Ink. And I’m going to finally start posting some images from the backlog of tattoos that people have sent me since I finished work on the book.
[PS–Just one correction: I wrote the historical explanation of the “shoulders of giants” quote, not Rodrigues. That’s true for most of the other stuff in the caption-essays.]