Sunday, July 28, 2013

Science Tattoos, Or, How to Let the World Know You are REALLY a Nerd

(Above) Marc Morency, Quartermaster 1st class, USN, writes:
“My tattoo is the visual depiction of how to plot a line of position from a celestial body using the altitude intercept method, a method which has been time tested for more than a century. For me it serves as a reminder that while technology improves, the sea remains an unpredictable place and it is up to the older generation to teach the younger the old school ways of doing business.”

(Above) Zach writes: “This is a half sleeve up my upper right arm based around an image taken by one of the CERN bubble chambers. It is based on this image. I first saw that image my freshman year of college. It had the sublime, simple beauty that only something made of math and science can have. It stuck with me for 8 more years before I actually decided to get it etched into me. Oddly enough, on Valentine’s Day. I guess it was my Valentine's to physics and science. Oh, and when people ask who drew it, I always respond ‘God.’”

(Above) “For some time I have wanted to get a tattoo to depict my appreciation for meteorites. On September 28, 1969 meteorites fell in Murchison, Australia. On September 28, 2004 our daughter Christina (a.k.a. Pinky) was born. As if wasn’t already a top-fiver for it’s amino acids, Murchison quickly moved up the ranks of my favorite meteorites and I had decided it would somehow be involved in the meteorite tattoo. With a little help from friends Steve Arnold (IMB) and Jason Phillips I obtained a small capsule of Murchison crumbs to pulverize and one day add to the ink. I ultimately decided on a carbon buckeyball, found in Murchison, unrolled and laid out flat. With Murchison fully represented in design and medium, I had the tattoo artist make one carbon atom bright pink in honor of Pinky. Although it’s only the size of the head of a pin, it means the world to her… and me.”

(Above) Loren, a biology graduate student, writes, “It’s a sketch of the horseshoe crab Limulus, such as a zoologist would make (and with the abdominal segments correctly identified). Perhaps the most magnificent living fossil of all, the horseshoe crab is the survivor of a lineage that extends back some 445 million years into the Ordovician. The four extant species are the only living representatives of the ancient arthropod class Merostomata and the only known chelicerate crabs.”

(Above) Alice writes, “This is an Aztec speech glyph that dates back before the conquest. I’m a linguist, and I believe this glyph embodies the impossible elegance of spoken language as well as the intrinsically artificial and cumbersome nature of written language.”

(Above) Mark writes:
“This tattoo is the Zermelo-Fraenkel with Choice axioms of set theory. These nine axioms are the basis for ZFC set theory, which is the most commonly studied form of set theory and the most well known set of axioms as well. From these nine axioms, one can derive all of mathematics. These provide the foundation of mathematics, a field that you can likely tell that I love dearly.”

(Above) Alison, a high-school physics teacher, writes:
“Like many scientists, the wonder of the natural laws of the Universe is where I draw my spiritual inspiration. I also study the religions of the world, and have been fascinated by the reoccurring theme of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. The Mandelbrot Set (top) represents Creation, with the emergent properties of a simple equation that produces such a rich, complex, and unpredictable fractal pattern that goes on into Infinity. The equation for hydrostatic equilibrium (bottom left) represents Preservation, describing the precarious balance between crushing gravity and expanding pressure inside of stars (including our own) to keep them in a stable, sustainable size for billions of years. The equation describing entropy (bottom right) symbolizes Destruction, simply stating that this fundamental break down of systems and accumulation of disorder either increases or stays the same over time, but never decreases. All three circle around the Delta, the symbol for Change.”

(Above) Milad writes:
“I am a Mechanical Engineering undergrad at UC Berkeley and I got this tattoo about a month ago. It’s the golden ratio in the shape of a rectangle, with the ratio of the sides of the rectangle actually being the golden ratio! I have been obsessed with this number since I heard about it in high school, and it is the reason why I became so fascinated with mathematics. The golden ratio is known to be the closest mathematical explanation of beauty. It has been used a lot in architecture, art, and music around the world, and has some amazing mathematical and geometrical properties.”

(Above) This tattoo is the schematic for the reference point of electricity. I just think of it as the source of electricity. Its really either the point at which you consider voltage to be 0, or in this pictures case, the physical connection to the earth (hence the lower calf). Electronics has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and I feel like this tattoo doesn’t do it justice. So I plan on getting another one to incorporate my passion for electronics and my trans-humanism beliefs.”

(Above) Anonymous writes: “This is a ‘Ramon y Cajal’ drawing of a human motor cortex pyramidal cell. I am a student of neuroscience and greatly admire Ramon y Cajal not only for his scientific contributions but for the artistic and beautiful quality of his images. This image reminds me of the vast and incredible power of the neocortex, and of the amazing capability of the human body.”

THERE’S NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT IF YOU ARE A NERD. NERDS RULE THE WORLD, let’s face it. Today, being a nerd means you are deeply into something—usually science or mathematics. People into art don’t get that moniker for some reason—kids just think they are weird.

Carl Zimmer, a science writer for Discover Magazine, the NY Times and author of 6 books, wondered if people “out there” ever had tattoos of the science they love. He put out a call, and bingo! he was flooded with examples. I think they are cool—love ‘em by the way.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Twins, Triplets, Death and Kidnappings

(Above) Baby born 16.3 pounds and 2 feet tall. Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) This Dorothea Lange-style photo shows the 11 member Cleveland Piper family. Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) 15-year old wife of a farmer. Uh-h, I thought this was against the law? Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) S.P. Dinsmore, creator of The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas. Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) Mrs. Henry Bates looks none too happy. Click on image for a larger view.
(Above) Baby drug addict. Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) Killed by Reds! Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) Really creepy (and sad). Click on image for a larger view.

(Above) I can only hope that Mr. and Mrs. Riley went to jail.
Click on image for a larger view.

A YEAR OR SO AGO, DAVID RUHLMAN, A FELLOW BLOGGER, CONTACTED ME TO SEE WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT HIS RECENT DISCOVERY of a scrapbook of old newspaper clippings. David told me that he was searching antique/thift stores in Salt Lake City and at one store came across a folder that was filled with newspaper clippings. There wasn’t any information about the previous owner, but the folder contained about 40-45 articles cut from newspapers. What was unusual about the clips were that almost all of them were about twins, triplets, death and kidnappings—an odd menagerie of characters—victims of crime, underage mothers and being born a twin or triplet. Weird!

In looking at his wonderful site, called The Earth Is a Secret Knot, I was more than surprised to spot a clipping about S.P. Dinsmore, the creator of the Lucas, Kansas art environment called The Garden of Eden. At the time this photo was taken, Dinsmore was 88 years old and his wife was 27. The news clipping shows there were at least two young children from this marriage, and this was long before Viagra.

The headlines and subject matter of these clippings are wonderfully surreal—which gives it the perfect pedigree for Accidental Mysteries.

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