Streams

Your Occupational Ink

(Courtesy of Milad Khongar/Photo adapted from Science Ink by Carl Zimmer © 2011 Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.)
In his new book Science Ink, Carl Zimmer collects photos and stories of scientists' and mathematicians' tattoos. It got us wondering: what kinds of tattoos do Studio 360 listeners have? Do you have tattoos specifically related to your profession or area of study? Post a photo of your tattoo below and tell us the story behind it.

See the submissions we've got so far.

Elizabeth
Massachusetts
I am a teacher but I have a wonderful summer job as a concessionaire in a circus, selling t-shirts, popcorn, etc, to support the circus. I have a tattoo of popcorn, one kernel for each tour I have worked.
Ted Petsas
Somerville MA
My first science tattoo is the equation for Newtown's second law of motion. I am a mechanical engineer, and while in college I had a physics professor who advised our class to never get the name of a significant other tattooed because it may not be constant in your life. Instead he suggested it a better idea to get Newton's second law of motion because it is so fundamental to us.
CarlaJean Valluzzi
currently, Baltimore MD But I'm from Western Massachusetts!
I am a poet who works exclusively on a manual typewriter (when I'm not writing out longhand)! This tattoo came to me in a dream. I collaged the image together, the great and talented Jeremy McIntosh of Pygmalions Tattoo in Greenfield MA made it come to life!
Kate Hoffman
State College, PA
I'm a High School English teacher. I have 15 tattoos, and most are related to books/stories I teach.
Rose Seyfried
New York
In school for sound design and audio engineering, I had a professor who stressed the importance of "checking phantom power" (48 volts). To protect delicate microphones, he said, we would need to be careful about making sure the extra power supply was turned off before plugging them in. "If there's one thing you should tattoo on your arm, it's 'check +48V'" So I did. Now, living in New York, as a active engineer, my tattoo is a funny inside joke- and a reminder of how hard I've worked to realize my career dream.
Gabe
Tennessee
I am recent college graduate preparing to enter divinity school as the first step in pursuing ordination in a large mainstream Christian denomination. So, my profession is (will be) ministry. My tattoo is the Greek translation of part of a very popular verse from the Hebrew Bible, Psalm 23:4, which usually reads something like "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." I did not get it in order for it to be seen - in fact most people who know me have no idea that I have it. As such, the verse is written in mirror-image over my heart, meaning that it only reads correctly if I look at it in a mirror. Though the verse is not in any sense the root of my Christian faith, it is the one thing that I need reminding of in the most difficult times. It reminds me that no matter what hardships may come up, I have someone by my side. The picture was taken halfway through the process, so it's a little rough...
Rock Demarco
Florida
I perform a rock n' roll live painting show on stage known as the "World's Fastest Painter". Because I paint giant celebrity portaits to music, my tattoo highlights the elements of my show; paint, music and stars. Rock Demarco
e farrar
Wenatchee WA
As a student of biology, I have been fascinated by the life cycles of the butterfly and the salmon. This tattoo has the appearance of a butterfly from a few feet away, but is actually two Coho Salmon jumping together.
Cris Martin
Arlington, MA
A few months ago I had a matryoshka (aka Russian nesting doll) tattooed on my leg. I am extremely passionate about Russian studies, and work at a Russian research center at a local university. I love my tattoo, it's a constant reminder of the passion I have for my work and this region.
Jacob Zonderman
Orange, CT
I am a 20 year old professional drummer and I wanted to do a musical tattoo as my first design when I was 18. I found a tribal-esque treble clef design online and took a year to mod it with a friend into my own full tribal treble clef design.
John GIbbons
Georgia
As a custom builder I have clients that want it all.This tattoo states what they can realistically have
AfternoonNapper
North Carolina
My fifth tattoo is a reminder to myself to do what I love to do and do what I am called to do. The word is done in my husband's handwriting since he is my greatest champion and supporter. The placement of the word "Write" on my right wrist is a nod to homonyms, an acknowledgment for my dominate side that I use to write, and a reminder to derive good from the unfortunate things in my life. I had a stroke in 2008 that led to the lost of pain and temperature on my right side. The stroke was the result of my condition, which is intimal fibromuscular dysplasia—a rare version of a rare disease for which there is no cure. Today I use my writing to advocate for healthcare engagement and literacy and raise awareness of fibromuscular dysplasia world wide.
Ashlee Welsh
Nashua, NH
I work at a genomic services company (my first job in the field of science after graduation), and got a DNA tattoo which codes for my husband's initials. I supposed it's more like a plasmid, since it's circular and wraps around my wrist. I'm not very happy with it, as the tattoo artist didn't give it the proper tertiary structure, but I'll have it touched up sooner or later.
Sam
West Virginia
I was a political science graduate student at the time. This quote from Jacque Rousseau was particularly beautiful I thought, if only for the stark reminder of trading short term peace for long term suffering hardly seemed worth it. I subsequently stopped being a political science graduate student. Still a huge fan of the message though.
Matt Lydon
Philadelphia, PA
I have a tattoo of William Shakespeare on my back. After years of working jobs that got me nowhere, I went back to school to become an English teacher, something I had considered at the end of high school but never followed through on. During my time back in the classroom as an education and English double major, I began reading Shakespeare again, and falling in love with the brilliance of that work. On top of teaching, I do improvisational theater, and 2 years ago, our main group ComedySportz Philadelphia formed an offshoot group now called The Incomplete Works of Shakespeare, where we take a suggestion from the audience, and improvise an hour-long play in the style of the Bard. The time was right and I was itching for another tattoo, so back in February 2011 at the Philadelphia Tattoo convention, I got inked by area artist John Pohl. Out of the 9 I have, Shakespeare is my favorite, and I love showing it, especially to people who don't believe me when I say I have a William Shakespeare tattoo. I can always tell the non-literary types who look at it and say, "Hey, that's awesome. Edgar Allen Poe?" Close, but no cigar, thou hundred pound, worsted stocking knave.
mrs k
portland, or
i have a culinary background and have worked in kitchens since i was 14. i "collect" spoons from restaurants that i like. i have over 35, from the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and Finland.
Robb Albright
Portland, OR
I am an iOS and Mac developer. These two tattoos represent the intersection of math/computing and art, much like I feel my chosen platforms represent the intersection of technology and the humanities. Like the featured image in this story, these are two related golden ratio tattoos on opposite sides of my right forearm. #1 - Binary Golden Ratio + Phi Instead of decimal, the golden ratio is represented in binary (IEEE-754 double). The phi overlaid is the symbol used in math for the golden ratio. The layout of the tattoo is a golden rectangle. The distance from the bottom to the centre of the phi is the same as the short side, so that a line bisecting the rectangle at that point would define a square and a new golden rectangle, as in the golden section. The bounding box of each 1 & 0 is approximately a golden rectangle. (All measurement claims are approximate due to being put on stretchy skin with a needle) #2 The golden section / spiral This is a fairly well known diagram. When people ask about the binary/phi I turn my arm over and say "That is the number and symbol that describes this diagram"
bre
washington dc
i have a anchor on my left foot and a caduceus above my heart. I am a navy corpsman. the caduceus is the symbol of my profession. the anchor is on the left foot because left foot first, and it is cracked and bleeding but still remains strng just like those who become injured in the line of duty.
Robert
New York City
Enough already with all the lame attempts to assign some sort of profundity to tattoos. Tattoos are self-vandalism, period. Much preferred is the basketball player who recently compared the defacement of his body (i.e., a tattoo) to putting a bumper sticker on a Maybach. More people should have his level of self respect.
Rob Smith
Rome Georgia :/
I am a system engineer by trade, hobby, and enjoy seeing the principles that govern the practices of my work transcend into everyday life.. While the Heisenberg uncertainty principle doesn't by definition equate to the reason I choose this, that being the uncertainty of life (That would be "The observer Effect"). I enjoy the idea that on the most quantified level of our scientific knowledge of the world, we can't pinpoint the position of elementary matter while knowing its momentum ... In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties, such as the position and momentum of a particle, can be simultaneously known. In other words, the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be controlled, determined, or known.
Hannah Burr
Boston MA
I'm a personal coach. I designed a logo for my business (I am also an artist with a design background). I worked with a woman (also an artist) who lives in New Orleans. She asked me for permission to reproduce the logo as a tattoo, on herself. I didn't think she was serious until a while later, she sent me this image, just having gotten the tattoo. She replicated it right down to the colors! It's a strange feeling to feel that one of my former clients is 'branded' for life! I take it as a compliment.
Paul Showalter
San Francisco, CA
I make big art with the flaming lotus girls. I have a tattoo of the valve that is often used to control the flame effects on this art.
Jennifer Gennaro
Yonkers, NY
When I took organic chem during my undergrad, it was my favorite subject. After losing my uncle to depression, I wanted to get a tattoo in his memory. Being the nerd that I am, I decided to get the chemical representation of the Serotonin molecule. Not only does it serve as a daily reminder of my uncle, it also works well in my profession: high school science teacher.

November 13, 2011 02:04:12 PM
:

Jennifer Gennaro

:

Yonkers, NY

:

When I took organic chem during my undergrad, it was my favorite subject. After losing my uncle to depression, I wanted to get a tattoo in his memory. Being the nerd that I am, I decided to get the chemical representation of the Serotonin molecule. Not only does it serve as a daily reminder of my uncle, it also works well in my profession: high school science teacher.

:
Leave a comment
November 01, 2011 05:24:06 PM
:

Paul Showalter

:

San Francisco, CA

:

I make big art with the flaming lotus girls.

I have a tattoo of the valve that is often used to control the flame effects on this art.

:
Leave a comment
October 30, 2011 03:00:09 PM
:

Hannah Burr

:

Boston MA

:

I'm a personal coach. I designed a logo for my business (I am also an artist with a design background). I worked with a woman (also an artist) who lives in New Orleans. She asked me for permission to reproduce the logo as a tattoo, on herself. I didn't think she was serious until a while later, she sent me this image, just having gotten the tattoo. She replicated it right down to the colors! It's a strange feeling to feel that one of my former clients is 'branded' for life! I take it as a compliment.

:
Leave a comment
October 30, 2011 02:39:47 PM
:

Rob Smith

:

Rome Georgia :/

:

I am a system engineer by trade, hobby, and enjoy seeing the principles that govern the practices of my work transcend into everyday life..

While the Heisenberg uncertainty principle doesn't by definition equate to the reason I choose this, that being the uncertainty of life (That would be "The observer Effect"). I enjoy the idea that on the most quantified level of our scientific knowledge of the world, we can't pinpoint the position of elementary matter while knowing its momentum ...

In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties, such as the position and momentum of a particle, can be simultaneously known. In other words, the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be controlled, determined, or known.

:
Leave a comment
October 30, 2011 12:09:42 PM
:

Robert

:

New York City

:

Enough already with all the lame attempts to assign some sort of profundity to tattoos. Tattoos are self-vandalism, period. Much preferred is the basketball player who recently compared the defacement of his body (i.e., a tattoo) to putting a bumper sticker on a Maybach. More people should have his level of self respect.

:
Comments(1)
October 29, 2011 02:56:52 PM
:

bre

:

washington dc

:

i have a anchor on my left foot and a caduceus above my heart. I am a navy corpsman. the caduceus is the symbol of my profession. the anchor is on the left foot because left foot first, and it is cracked and bleeding but still remains strng just like those who become injured in the line of duty.

:
Leave a comment
October 28, 2011 01:49:43 PM
:

Robb Albright

:

Portland, OR

:

I am an iOS and Mac developer. These two tattoos represent the intersection of math/computing and art, much like I feel my chosen platforms represent the intersection of technology and the humanities.

Like the featured image in this story, these are two related golden ratio tattoos on opposite sides of my right forearm.

#1 - Binary Golden Ratio + Phi
Instead of decimal, the golden ratio is represented in binary (IEEE-754 double).

The phi overlaid is the symbol used in math for the golden ratio.

The layout of the tattoo is a golden rectangle.

The distance from the bottom to the centre of the phi is the same as the short side, so that a line bisecting the rectangle at that point would define a square and a new golden rectangle, as in the golden section.

The bounding box of each 1 & 0 is approximately a golden rectangle.
(All measurement claims are approximate due to being put on stretchy skin with a needle)

#2 The golden section / spiral
This is a fairly well known diagram. When people ask about the binary/phi I turn my arm over and say "That is the number and symbol that describes this diagram"

:
Comments(1)
October 28, 2011 10:40:48 AM
:

mrs k

:

portland, or

:

i have a culinary background and have worked in kitchens since i was 14.

i "collect" spoons from restaurants that i like. i have over 35, from the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and Finland.

:
Leave a comment
October 28, 2011 09:22:27 AM
:

Matt Lydon

:

Philadelphia, PA

:

I have a tattoo of William Shakespeare on my back. After years of working jobs that got me nowhere, I went back to school to become an English teacher, something I had considered at the end of high school but never followed through on. During my time back in the classroom as an education and English double major, I began reading Shakespeare again, and falling in love with the brilliance of that work.
On top of teaching, I do improvisational theater, and 2 years ago, our main group ComedySportz Philadelphia formed an offshoot group now called The Incomplete Works of Shakespeare, where we take a suggestion from the audience, and improvise an hour-long play in the style of the Bard. The time was right and I was itching for another tattoo, so back in February 2011 at the Philadelphia Tattoo convention, I got inked by area artist John Pohl.
Out of the 9 I have, Shakespeare is my favorite, and I love showing it, especially to people who don't believe me when I say I have a William Shakespeare tattoo. I can always tell the non-literary types who look at it and say, "Hey, that's awesome. Edgar Allen Poe?"
Close, but no cigar, thou hundred pound, worsted stocking knave.

:
Leave a comment
October 27, 2011 11:08:04 PM
:

Sam

:

West Virginia

:

I was a political science graduate student at the time. This quote from Jacque Rousseau was particularly beautiful I thought, if only for the stark reminder of trading short term peace for long term suffering hardly seemed worth it. I subsequently stopped being a political science graduate student. Still a huge fan of the message though.

:
Leave a comment
October 27, 2011 10:24:46 PM
:

Ashlee Welsh

:

Nashua, NH

:

I work at a genomic services company (my first job in the field of science after graduation), and got a DNA tattoo which codes for my husband's initials. I supposed it's more like a plasmid, since it's circular and wraps around my wrist. I'm not very happy with it, as the tattoo artist didn't give it the proper tertiary structure, but I'll have it touched up sooner or later.

:
Leave a comment
October 27, 2011 10:13:27 PM
:

AfternoonNapper

:

North Carolina

:

My fifth tattoo is a reminder to myself to do what I love to do and do what I am called to do. The word is done in my husband's handwriting since he is my greatest champion and supporter. The placement of the word "Write" on my right wrist is a nod to homonyms, an acknowledgment for my dominate side that I use to write, and a reminder to derive good from the unfortunate things in my life. I had a stroke in 2008 that led to the lost of pain and temperature on my right side. The stroke was the result of my condition, which is intimal fibromuscular dysplasia—a rare version of a rare disease for which there is no cure. Today I use my writing to advocate for healthcare engagement and literacy and raise awareness of fibromuscular dysplasia world wide.

:
Leave a comment
October 24, 2011 09:24:45 PM
:

John GIbbons

:

Georgia

:

As a custom builder I have clients that want it all.This tattoo states what they can realistically have

:
Comments(1)
October 24, 2011 11:34:09 AM
:

Jacob Zonderman

:

Orange, CT

:

I am a 20 year old professional drummer and I wanted to do a musical tattoo as my first design when I was 18. I found a tribal-esque treble clef design online and took a year to mod it with a friend into my own full tribal treble clef design.

:
Leave a comment
October 24, 2011 10:32:09 AM
:

Cris Martin

:

Arlington, MA

:

A few months ago I had a matryoshka (aka Russian nesting doll) tattooed on my leg. I am extremely passionate about Russian studies, and work at a Russian research center at a local university. I love my tattoo, it's a constant reminder of the passion I have for my work and this region.

:
Leave a comment
October 23, 2011 09:59:57 PM
:

e farrar

:

Wenatchee WA

:

As a student of biology, I have been fascinated by the life cycles of the butterfly and the salmon. This tattoo has the appearance of a butterfly from a few feet away, but is actually two Coho Salmon jumping together.

:
Leave a comment
October 23, 2011 09:12:32 PM
:

Rock Demarco

:

Florida

:

I perform a rock n' roll live painting show on stage known as the "World's Fastest Painter". Because I paint giant celebrity portaits to music, my tattoo highlights the elements of my show; paint, music and stars. Rock Demarco

:
Comments(2)
October 23, 2011 08:47:28 PM
:

Kate Hoffman

:

State College, PA

:

I'm a High School English teacher. I have 15 tattoos, and most are related to books/stories I teach.

:
Leave a comment
October 23, 2011 03:18:43 PM
:

Gabe

:

Tennessee

:

I am recent college graduate preparing to enter divinity school as the first step in pursuing ordination in a large mainstream Christian denomination. So, my profession is (will be) ministry.

My tattoo is the Greek translation of part of a very popular verse from the Hebrew Bible, Psalm 23:4, which usually reads something like "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

I did not get it in order for it to be seen - in fact most people who know me have no idea that I have it. As such, the verse is written in mirror-image over my heart, meaning that it only reads correctly if I look at it in a mirror.

Though the verse is not in any sense the root of my Christian faith, it is the one thing that I need reminding of in the most difficult times. It reminds me that no matter what hardships may come up, I have someone by my side.

The picture was taken halfway through the process, so it's a little rough...

:
Leave a comment
October 23, 2011 11:20:39 AM
:

Rose Seyfried

:

New York

:

In school for sound design and audio engineering, I had a professor who stressed the importance of "checking phantom power" (48 volts). To protect delicate microphones, he said, we would need to be careful about making sure the extra power supply was turned off before plugging them in. "If there's one thing you should tattoo on your arm, it's 'check +48V'"

So I did.

Now, living in New York, as a active engineer, my tattoo is a funny inside joke- and a reminder of how hard I've worked to realize my career dream.

:
Leave a comment