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23 Incredibly Elegant Science Tattoos


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1. A modified version of the phylogenetic tree of life by Hillis, Zwickl and Gutell.

"You can only see the “inner circle” and the human line of development ascending my neck, as the whole tree would have been way to detailed to be tattooed. As a further modification I decided to place the structural formula of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in the middle, as this molecule is the “fuel” of life on earth and can be found in every living cell."

4. Charles Darwin's original drawing of the Tree of Life.

"Charles Darwin was the first person to draw a Tree of Life that showed that all species on Earth are related and that they evolved from a common ancestor. This is his first sketch of the tree of life from one of his notebooks from 1837. He is by far one of my favorite scientists, wise beyond his years. As a Biology major I am proud of this tattoo."

8. An amino acid sequence.

"'The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.'

-Carl Sagan, Cosmos

The amino acid sequence on my arm is: Ile-Ale-Met-Ser-Thr-Ala-Arg-Ser-Thr-Sec-Phe-Phe, 'I AM STARSTUFF.'"

10. The pyramidal neuron of the hippocampus.

"My first tattoo: Pyramidal Neuron of the Hippocampus.

'Like the entomologist in search of colorful butterflies, my attention has chased in the gardens of the grey matter cells with delicate and elegant shapes, the mysterious butterflies of the soul, whose beating of wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind.'-Santiago Ramon Y Cajal"

12. An x-ray crystallography image of a DNA molecule.

"This is the first image of the DNA molecule every produced via x-ray crystallography. The image was obtained by Rosalind Franklin, a crystallographer whose work was then used by Watson and Crick to piece together the double-helical structure of DNA. They won the nobel prize while Franklin did not get credit for her work until years after her death. This image was the beginning of modern genetics and molecular biology as we know it.

The information that this image has provided has created entire fields of study that no one would have predicted 70 years ago. Research in cell, developmental, and molecular biology can all be traced back to this image, 'Photo 51'. I study developmental biology and how transcriptional enhancers coordinate gene expression during development, and certainly manipulate DNA daily. This image encapsulates a piece of what I love about biology. This image will never change because it is a piece of history. Understanding the gendered power dynamics behind its publication also resonates with me as I too am a woman working in a male-dominated field.

The tattoo is placed on my ribcage, made entirely of dots."

13. The molecular structure of Vemurafenib, a prescription drug used to treat cancer.

"This is Vemurafenib. It is used to treat certain types of melanoma (a type of skin cancer) that cannot be treated with surgery or that has spread to other parts of the body. It bought me 10 months of extra life, then the tumors became resistant. My wife had put on her arm."

14. An ATP molecule.

"ATP molecule- an essential molecule for a vast array of metabolic processes in organisms. Ultimately, it is one of the things essential to life. ATP is manufactured from the food we eat- the micro and macro world are intimately connected. Also, I love hummingbird moths :)"

15. The layout of the International Linear Accelerator Project.

"Main channels, electron source, radio frequency cavities, wiggler positron source, focusing magnets, detectors, collision. It means communion, people of the world joining effort to achieve one common goal. It is the continuity of the work of Giants, it is a path to understanding the surroundings. But it is also a memory, a medal for me to remember that effort pays back, and that trying to be smarter every day will eventually pay off. It is a medal to be nerd, to miss parties because of studying, to be the weird reading loving guy in a see of normal people."

21. A particle accelerator collision. / Via

"My nerdtastic tattoo! A particle accelerator collision as seen in a bubble chamber, and a quote from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. 'Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.'"

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