First the good news.
T.D. MacDonald fact-checked the design five times before he let one drop of ink penetrate his skin.
"I didn't want to have an incorrect chemical structure on my body," he says, recounting the long hours he spent creating his tattoo. "The way it is oriented in space had to be right."
That his ink is accurate matters to him, of course.
But few of us would know the strangely beautiful tattoo that encircles MacDonald's upper right arm is composed of amino acids -- let alone whether they were in the correct configuration.
Tattoos, traditionally proclamations of passion, are no less so for scientists like MacDonald who, beneath lab coats and t-shirts, are baring their skin to get a permanent emblem of their infatuations, whether mathematical equation or phylogenetic tree.
Q. What tattoos have you seen most often?
A. A lot of DNA tattoos. A lot of people have the number pi. Those are the two most common ones. If someone sends me a tattoo and says, 'Look! I've got pi on my arm!' I have to say, I'm not particularly impressed. Now, on the other hand, if that person has the first 200 digits of pi written out on their arm -- that's nice.
A very cool article, very cool gallery (and a special shout out to York U tweep Jesse Rogerson) and very cool interview. It's also worth noting that Science Online 2012 looks to have an interesting sideline emphasis on science tattoos, mostly due to the perennial presence of Carl Zimmer as an attendee.
And now for the not-so-good news.
As you may know, this time of year I post a whole bunch of Best Science Books 2011 lists here on the blog. They aggregate the sciencey books from all the "Year's Best" lists I can find.
Well, also on Saturday The Star posted its list of the 100 best books of the year, as chosen by their crew of reviewers.
And guess how many science books are on that list?
Zero. Not one single science book. Out of a hundred.
A pathetically limited choice by reviewers with strangely limited tastes.
The list of reviewers, for those that are interested:
- Sarah Murdoch
- Michel Basiliere
- Nancy Wigston
- Laura Eggertson
- Christine Sismondo
- James Macgowan
- James Grainger
- Emily Donaldson
- Barbara Carey
- Jennifer Hunter
(Jack Batten's top 10 mystery novels was also included in the list.)
The closest thing to a science book was Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence by Michael Parenti which is about human migrations caused by climate change.
I'll admit to being very disappointed with The Star. Their science coverage hasn't been fantastic lately, in any part of the paper. But here, within the very same issue, they are trying to capitalize on a young, hip, sexy "image" for science people while at the same time totally ignoring terrific reporting on the vast amounts of actual science going on in the world. I'm at a loss for words. They should be embarrassed.
For what it's worth, The Globe and Mail did a much better job.