A kind of fun book about the tattoos that the science-obsessed get, along with a short explanation of the particular science which the artwork represents, and often a little blurb about the person with the ink and why they chose that particular representation.
I am not much of a fan of tatoos, and have none myself, so my opinion on the various art isn’t worth a bottle of ink. Some of it looks lovely, and some of it is awful, and some of it makes me go why?, but basically, if you like tattoos, and mostly what you have seen on your friends and family and the folks at the rock festival or the local bar run to eagles, hearts, snakes and such, you will enjoy seeing the creativity here. Physics equations, the entire solar system, the world at a glance, Cambrian fossils, huge quotes from famous scientists, vaccine tree, danger signals, motors, crystal radio parts, and a New Yorker cartoon, just a few of what people hold dear enough to themselves to want to have it permanently etched on their person.
People have tats of stuff I never even heard of:
The Fourier Transform
the Dirac Equation
the Lazarus Taxon
the Zermelo-Fraenkel with Choice axioms of set theory
Here’s some stuff I learned:
In 1939, French mathematician named Nicolas Bourbake, published one part of a multi-volume work called Elements of Mathematics. Bourbake called for a symbol for the set that contains no elements in it, and proposed a circle with a diagonal slash to represent “la partie vide”.
Nicholas Bourbake, it turns out, was himself an empty set. In the 1930’s a group of French mathematicians started meeting to write a new mathematics textbook. They decided that they would publish their work not under their real names but as a single pseudonym – Nicholas Burbaki. The name came from an old mathematician who called himself Nicholas Burbaki, but who turned out to be another student who put on a fake beard and spouted nonsense.
Tattoos are not a recent thing. Tattoos are etched deep in our species. The body of a 5300-year-old-hunter was found in the Austrian Alps, and his freeze-dried skin sported a number of tattoos. Tattoos are preserved on other mummies from ancient civilizations from the Scythians of Central Asia to the Chiribaya of Peru. Two hallmarks of Homo sapiens are decoration and self-identification.
You can find more books by Mary Roach just by plugging in her name in the search window here on the blog.