My secret nefarious inky plan revealed!

By Phil Plait | April 8, 2009 9:15 am

Last month, I hinted that I have a secret. The time has come to reveal it.

First, the punch line: I’m getting a tattoo.

Second, one step back: it’s because of you, me droogs.

Third, the beginning:

A few months ago, when I had newly joined the Hive Overmind Discover Magazine, Top Banana (OK, he’s the CEO) Henry Donahue and I were talking about how the move should increase traffic for my blog and increase Discover Mag’s online presence. We were joking around about how popular Carl Zimmer’s Science Tattoo Emporium is, and how much traffic the site overall had. One reason I joined the Overmind was to help broaden my reach, so we started brainstorming. And as we talked, somehow we decided that Henry and I would both get tattoos if in the period of one calendar month I got 2 million page views to my blog, and the site overall got 5 million, and, moreover, I would take suggestions from my readers on my tat.

No alcohol was involved in that conversation, I’ll note. I almost wish there had been. At least I’d have an excuse.

Henry took the conversation seriously. That’ll learn me. However, I think deep down I didn’t really believe it would happen. It meant tripling the overall traffic to Discover, and more than doubling mine. That’s a tough goal! But it sounded like a good challenge and not one that was entirely crazy…

So, remember last month how I mercilessly and relentlessly asked folks to follow me on Twitter, and to send my posts to social networks like Fark, Digg, Reddit, and Slashdot? Yeah, that was all part of the nefarious plan, all to reach that goal.

And what happened? Heh. This happened:

That’s right: thanks to all of you, I made it! In fact, that picture was grabbed before the end of the day; I broke the goal by about 50,000 page views. And it really was on that last day when it went through 2M, so it was something of a nail-biter.

And if you think I am not going to go through with this, I kinda have to. Discover Magazine made a press release for it.

So now, well, I’m stuck. I have to get a tattoo. I have some ideas, but since you all are the ones who propelled me through my arbitrary goal, I’ll ask you: what should I get? Assume I’ll get the tattoo on my upper right arm, just below the shoulder, and it’ll be maybe 2×3 inches or so. I want it to be safe for work, not too elaborate, something sciencey, but something that is special. You know I write what I think here, so if you read my stuff, you’ll have an idea of what I might like.

Mind you, I’m not saying I’ll go with whatever someone comes up with! For example: "Colbert" = no. I’m looking for ideas here; it doesn’t have to be fully-formed and perfect, but can be something I can use as a jumping-off place to think about ink.

And may I say to everyone who helped without knowing why: thanks. It was very cool that y’all trusted me. And it was way fun watching the counter go up every day, and to see it hit 2M was very, very gratifying.

So. Ink me! Whaddya think?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Humor

Comments (413)

  1. BeinSilly

    Arkushanangarushashutu = Delta Cancris

    (That’s the longest star name.Babylonian for thepositionof thestar which is also known as Asellus Australis – I kid you not.)

    That’s what you should get! ;-)

  2. I think a telescope would be apropos. Perhaps one of Michaelangelo’s designs?

  3. Sir Eccles

    It has to be the “stupid it burns” image!

  4. Shaun

    I would think a tattoo of “The stupid, it burns!” would come in handy in everyday astronomer life.

  5. StevoR

    Although there is ‘Torcularis Septentrionalis’ which is longer although its two words for Omicron Piscium.

    Either would be great on the BA’s back! ;-)

  6. Can’t get more profound than:

    e^(pi*i)-1=0

    I reckon. Five most important numbers in math all fit together!

  7. pablo

    having recieved many good and, ehem, bad tattoos — my recommendations are to:

    1) find an artist you like (ask around for suggestions in your area – if you don’t have someone in mind already)

    2) only go with a vague idea about the tattoo you want and let the artist go to work creating it from your ideas, after an iteration or 2 with you, you two will fast approach the right tattoo.

  8. Good post, thanks for the info.

  9. e^(pi*i)+1=0

    bah! PLUS one. No intenets for me!

  10. Shoeshine Boy

    Let me get this straight. You WON a bet and have to get a tatoo?

  11. Phil, is that your gun or did you use and arm model? :)

  12. Bein' Silly

    Arkushanangarushashutu is next to the Beehive cluster Prasepe or Messier 44 – the two stars eitherside Asellus Australis (babaylonian Arku-sha-nangaru-sha-shutu) and Asellus Borealis were envisage das two donkeys feeding at themanager by one aancient astronomer whose name escapes me.

    Incidentally, I had a chicken called Arkushanangarushashutu and anothercalled Shurnarkabtishashiltanu (Babylonian name for Beta Tauri – aka El Nath) once .. ;-)

    Hey,if you’re going to get a tattoo you’re might as well make it a
    long one! ;-)

  13. Charles Boyer

    Nice shirt, Phil.

  14. mattb

    I just have some friendly advise, don’t put anything stupid on your arm, like a formula, or something too basic or simple. Spend your money, travel if you have to, and get something beautiful, and totally cosmic and cool.

  15. How ’bout a telescope? Whatever your favorite happens to be, or maybe a stylized one. It’d be fairly unambiguous at least.

  16. Flying sardines

    Edinburgh military – then you’d have he Edinburgh military tatoo! ;-)

  17. Steeev

    How about a tattoo that looks like a smallpox vaccination scar? Subtle, yet still a shot in the arm against the antivaxers.

  18. StevoR

    Further info. for the curious :

    Arkushanangarushashutu is next to the Beehive cluster Praesepe or Messier 44 – the two stars either side are sometiems called Asellus Australis (Babylonian ‘Arku-sha-nangaru-sha-shutu’) and Asellus Borealis were envisaged as two donkeys feeding at the manger by one ancient astronomer whose name escapes me.

    Incidentally, I had a chicken called Arkushanangarushashutu and another called Shurnarkabtishashiltanu (Babylonian name for Beta Tauri – aka El Nath) once .. ;-)

    Hey,if you’re going to get a tattoo you’re might as well make it a
    long one! ;-)

  19. Oh! Or a deadly asteroid-fireball hurtling toward earth. You can’t unpublish your book, so might as well have a tat that goes along with it.

  20. StevoR

    An astronomical artwork?

  21. Hmmm, some ink in no particular order…

    1. I <3 The Doctor
    2. 2×10^6
    3. wOOt
    3. I was sober when I got this
    4. Mutha
    5. Bad
    6. What was I thinking?
    7. Oh Dear

  22. Mark

    I say get a bust of Isaac Newton tattooed on your gun. That guy was the man. I don’t think I have ever seen a tattoo of a legendary scientist.

    Alternatively, I ‘heart’ Mom is always a winner

  23. RAF

    How about a cute little Robbie the Robot tat? That cerainly would be “different”.

  24. Austin

    Perhaps an anthropomorphic telescope punching a squid?

  25. Juniper from Jupiter

    Your book (s) cover (s) maybe?

    Not only do you win the bet – you get free advertising too .. ;-)

  26. RAF

    Then again…some form of fireball, or comet (with a tail) would be nice.

  27. Craig Edgar

    Hi phil big shotu from Ireland,

    Just wanna say I am a MASSIVE fan of your blog and I regularly send the link to all my work colleagues and buddies. Well done on your achievement!!

    Dude I’m totally thinking a portrait of jenny mcCarthy with a gag in her mouth would be super sweet.

    Anyways all the best

    Laterz

    craig

  28. I <3 Jenny Mrs BA

  29. Gotta be Saturn. The most easily recognizable astronomical image.

    Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Or a Darwin Fish.

    I’ll stop now.

  30. Jake

    A dalek exterminating a squid.

  31. The rings of SN 1987A

  32. Mark

    “SCIENCE!”

    In a gothic font.

    And in a half-circle.

    With flames around it.

    And possibly a skull, somewhere. Because of the flames :)

  33. Joker

    How about aserie sof sentences saying:

    Creationism is correct!
    The Universe is electric plasma!
    UFO’s are alien spaceships!
    The Moon landing was faked!
    Homopathy works!
    Vaccines cause autism!

    … Yeah I’m jokin’! ;-)

  34. Chris G

    Okay, let’s first of all establish that I’m a weenie. Needles…poking through the skin….repeatedly….

    *HYURK!*

    How about getting a temporary tattoo? You can apply it painlessly, it’ll fade in a reasonable time, and, best of all, you could sell ‘em to your breathless minions!

    Different shapes and sayings could be used (Darwin fish, the “stupid, it burns”, obscure mathematical calculations) depending on your mood. Heck, you could even incorporate the Discover logo, if you wanted.

    But, please, if you go the permanent route, no pictures, I’m begging ya!

    (needles….*URK!*)

  35. You’re an astronomer. So you get a little Pluto saying “I am too a planet!”

  36. It might be kinda painful, but I think you should get a print of the Milky Way, edge-on, wrapped around your arm.

    If you don’t, I might. I think it’s a rad idea.

  37. Tacoma

    I second selling a temporary tattoo version of whatever you get done so your fans can buy them. Besides digging through your garbage cans and gazing through your frosty windows late at night it’s the closest they can feel to you.

    I also second saturn (most recognizable) or a kickass comet, possibly with a skull at the center instead of ice.

  38. Motoman

    …I think you should get the same tattoo I have – a trillion naked singularities. Pretty close to your mostest favoritist thing in the univers – black holes. But even more enigmatic…

    …also, in case you don’t get the point (ha!), a naked singularity…or a trillion of them…would require no ink at all.

  39. Grey Wolf

    I have only one URL to suggest:

    http://xkcd.com/54/

    Maybe toning down the “b” word. But that’s basically *you*, Phil, or rather what your online persona has meant for years.

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/science.jpg

  40. I vote for “SCIENCE ROCKS!”.

  41. Plutonium being from Pluto

    @ Jake:

    A dalek exterminating a squid.

    Yep. I like that one! & the telescope punching a squid one too. ;-)

    Or simple but effective just have :

    www (dot) badastronomy (dot) com RULES! :-)

    Mind you, I personally would opt for a giant astro-art image of Pluto & Charon plus Hydra & Nix and the surrounding stars & the words “Yes, Pluto is a proper planet!” beneath it! (or above it whatever ..)

  42. Sespetoxri

    Personally I think it should be an Asteroid bursting through the skin of your arm, as though it were coming from inside you. A la… http://tattoo.about.com/library/bl061104y1.htm

  43. Sarcastro

    Back of the left shoulder: Krazy Kat with umbrella.
    Back of the right shoulder: Ignatz Mouse in pitcher pose.
    Smack in the middle: Brick with zip lines.

    Kind of like this.

    Nothing says physics like a nicely lobbed brick.

  44. Andromeda. Or some other pretty galaxy.

  45. Tara Mobley

    Either a mathematical equation that is relevant to Astronomy, or maybe a constellation you are particularly fond of. A constellation would be fairly minimal and can be pretty small.

  46. Bill Roberts

    How about an Apollo astronaut footprint?

  47. Joker

    D’oh! I forgot to add :

    & Nibiru is com,ing in 2012 too!

    .. still jokin’ on .. ;-)

  48. riddim

    Ideas

    Phases of moon around arm (i think the visual effect of the waxing and waning would be cool and 3dimensional on your arm)
    Planets in order around arm
    Star Map constellations(no color)
    Colorful spiral galaxy(may look like blob in 20 years)

  49. piratebrido

    An MMR needle! Or don’t get one at all but tell people you got a black hole done, but you can’t see it since it is a black hole.

  50. John

    There’s only one choice: the line art for HST at STSCI:

    http://www.stsci.edu/images/H1.jpg

  51. Bootsman

    There ‘s this kind of map to our sun on Voyager’s golden record. Maybe that image would make a good tattoo?

    The stylized comet idea is also a good one. I’ve always really liked the medieval depictions of them.

  52. Joker

    @ jman077:

    Andromeda. Or some other pretty galaxy.

    What about an ugly one? Don’t *they* deserve some exposure too!?

    Aestheticist! :-P ;-)

  53. Obviously, a squid. ;)

  54. Jim
  55. Richard

    Get an anamorphic projection of the Face on Mars, such that it is clear only from a particular angle (like the skull in “The Ambassadors”, but not as extreme). It’s astronomy, it’s skepticism, and it’s damn cool—but only if it actually works. Make sure you go to a good artist and check it THOROUGHLY before committing.

  56. Apocalypse Cow

    Benzene ring or Periodic table of Elements or a comet.

  57. BeinSilly

    Being serious for asec – the NASA logo & the words :

    “Science works, paryuer never lifted anything into orbit”

    Maybe? :-)

    Oh & btw. CONGRATULATIONS! :-D

  58. Lord-Mac

    A picture of two Hadrons heading toward each other at high speed with faces on them, like something you might see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

  59. How about:
    I <3 Jenny

    I like Bootsman's suggestion, the Voyager image…

    Or an M on each butt cheek so when you bend over it spells MOM.

  60. denadn03

    I have half sleeves, and after over a decade still love them. My tips are

    1. Find an artist (some tatooists are artists who happen to tatoo, like these guys: http://www.atomic.ws) and take time to work up something that identifies you. Don’t hesitate to revise and rework.

    2. When you have something you really like, tape it to your bathroom mirror for at least three months. If after that you still think it’s the raddest piece of art you’ve ever seen, ink it.

    Best of luck.

  61. “Bad Wolf” with maybe the Tardis underneath it.

  62. BeinSilly

    A couple of sentences & typos still creep in? Sigh.

    I meant :

    Being serious for a sec – how about your tattoo being the NASA logo & the words :

    “Science works, prayer never lifted anything into orbit”

    Bein’ less serious that DOOMED! picture? Possibly with the word(s)
    ‘anti-science’ or ‘bad astronomy’ DOOMED in front? ;-)

  63. BeinSilly

    @ Apocalypse Cow :

    Periodic table of Elements

    The whole periodic table? OWWWWW!

  64. Craig

    My suggestion is a small, pale blue dot with the words “you are here” underneath it.

  65. Roland303

    Get a hydrogen atom tattoo on your forehead. Like Dr. Manhattan.

  66. Joe Meils

    Phil… considering your passion for deep space opjects, I would think the choice of tats for you would be obvious. A spiral galaxy would be perfect!

    (Myself, I have a design by San Francisco artist Michael Manning, but that’s MY passion in action, and I wouldn’t try to convince anyone of anything other than a deeply personal statement when it comes to art they’ll carry until the day they rot.)

  67. Ray

    I would like to take partial credit for the page hits. I visit BA probably 5 times a day.

    As for the tattoo, here are some tips:

    No names of girlfriends or wives – they tend to come back to haunt you.

    No tribal – unless you’re actually in the tribe

    No barbwire – its just silly

    No unicorns, ponies, fairies, etc. – unless they’re on fire

    No Harley-Davidson unless you actually own one

    No Chinese or Japanese characters – do you really know what that tat means?

    No head/neck/face tattoos – unless its your goal to never have a real job and be stared at all the time.

    Yes to colors, especially if you’re really as pasty white as your picture

    Yes to tattoos that have a story behind them – you meet the most interesting people and hear the greatest stories when you’re at parties.

    Overall, I also think something astronomical would be appropriate.

  68. MJD

    this would be a good one: http://xkcd.com/54/ (relevent is many ways)

  69. unquiet_mind

    Hmmm…
    A Darwin fish w/ a more ‘fanciful’ design. Meaning the outline could be little stars, or the planets, or comets, etc. or some combination thereof…
    A few ideas for the text: BA, Science, Skeptic, Gamma-ray, Supernova, Aliens, Discover…

    And don’t listen to Chris G ;-)
    I’m not saying it tickles, but it’s really *not* that bad.

  70. The JREF logo, definitely. So next time you see Randi, you can show him his face tattooed on your body and freak him the frak out!

  71. Ray

    Tacoma,

    how did you know Phil’s windows were frosty at night?

  72. I agree with Richard, it should be the Face on Mars. That way, it will actually exist in reality somewhere (albeit not on Mars).

  73. BeinSilly

    Although it would be a handy “cheat sheet” for any chemistry exams you may have to take .. ;-)

    Not very astronomical mind you, what about a HR diagram with stars labelled
    instead? ;-)

    Hmmm .. Another idea, maybe a self portarit of the 0A tucking into a
    bowel of calamari & slat’n'pepper squid? ;-)

  74. Murff

    I say go all out, get one of the Little Astronomer looking through a telescope.

  75. BeinSilly

    That’s BOWL – not bowel! #@!#@!!% typos ..

  76. I vote for Austin’s suggestion, and just as important as the design, please, please, please work closely with your [reputable] tattoo artist on content, placement, etc. Also recommend Gatorade & nutrition bars for in-progress snacking, and Guinness for after :)

  77. BeinSilly

    & salt & slat & BA not oA whoever oA is .. *Sigh*

  78. Constellation artwork of your favorite, similar to this:

  79. BeinSilly

    Make that :

    & salt NOT ‘slat’ & BA not ‘oA’ , whoever oA is .. *Sigh*

    Yikes! Even my corrections need correcting .. :-(

  80. Dagger

    Vaccine Injection Site —>

  81. eddie

    I’ve always thought a picture of a solar eclipse would make for a good tattoo. Rather than just making a big black circle with some wispy lines around it, invert it, so the actual sun/moon part of the picture is just skin, and the corona is tattooed in black ink. Maybe have the image be right as the sun is being fully occluded, or after finishing being fully occluded, when you get that nice film/light flare up on one side of the moon.

    idea photos:

    http://www.mreclipse.com/SEphoto/TSE2005/image/TSE2005-120x.JPG

    http://stellafane.org/observing/astrophotos/dicicco/solar_eclipse_dicicco02.jpg

    http://ursispaltenstein.ch/blog/images/uploads_img/solar_eclipse.jpg

    Basically, take one of the pictures and invert the black/white areas.

    -e

  82. SteveG

    1. TARDIS
    2. Marvin the Paranoid Android (as in the 1980s TV Show; nobody needs to be reminded of the movie).

  83. I vote for:

    “Scarred for Life
    2M PV in One Month”

    First line is in a large bold font; second line is smaller, normal font so that both lines are the same length.

  84. QuestionAuthority
  85. Alex

    I second the Apollo astronaut footprint idea.

  86. Squid-Kitten Cross

    Or the squid -kitten cross photo & the words

    “PZ Myers rules for infinity & no returns!” ;-) :-P

  87. Al

    A Doctor Manhattan style Hydrogen atom would be cool …

  88. drow
  89. BeinSilly: Man, just… stop. Take your posts, type them up in Notepad or TextEdit, print them out, and tape them to your monitor for 5 minutes. If you still don’t see typos, *then* click submit ;-p

  90. StevoR

    Actually a tatoo version of that awesome Cassini image of
    Saturn backlit with the Earth as a pale blue dot near the rings would be my choice – speaking personally. :-)

  91. Axewerfer

    How about an image of the geocentric model of the universe? Should make for a nice conversation piece…the original example of debunked pseudo-science.

  92. As Tweeted, you should get a proper rendering of the Hubble Space Telescope possibly with some astronomical phenomena in the background. Not only would it encompass your passion, but it would be hella-cool to look at.

    Don’t you have an asteroid named after you? Didn’t you also do extensive study of a supernova remnant? Either of those would be nice background images.

  93. Bein'Silly

    @ Brock

    Good advice. Wish I could take it… (My printer’s broke .. )

  94. Pluto giving Earth the finger.

    The cow getting abducted by the saucer is pretty cool too.

  95. Bein'Silly

    & being serious – I second the suggestions of Fake Al Gore & StevoR regarding your asteroid, supernovae & that backlit Saturn picture. :-)

  96. Charles Boyer

    “I (heart) Jenny McCarthy”

  97. “December 24, 2012: Always Remember”
    :-)

  98. SpotWeld

    The most important thing I think anyone has every told me about tattoos is to ensure you get one that’s an image that you won’t mind seeing in the bathroom mirror for the rest of your life.

    For the Bad Astronomer I can only suggest a Black Hole’s Accretion disk/Relativistic jet structure. Death From the Skies indeed.

  99. Brian

    Phil, congratulations on the contest. This is so much cooler than anything I guessed at when you said you were up to something!

    Were I in your shoes, I would probably find it very hard not to just pick something from Carl Zimmer’s blog. There are so many beautiful tattoos there. Going through there makes me wish I was a scientist, just so I could brag about it on my arm. You are a scientist, so what are you waiting for?

    How about the chart showing the Main Sequence? That’s one I haven’t seen before. And it’s certainly iconic — it’s like the periodic table for astronomy.

  100. Kevin

    Sorry, but personally I think tattoos are sill and stupid.

  101. It occurred to me yesterday this this would make a sweet science tattoo:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Hertzsprung-Russell_diagram

    Maybe not the entire chart, but at least the shape of the main sequence–obscure and super geeky.

  102. Reginald

    The TARDIS, of course.

  103. PG

    Definitely a TARDIS.

  104. Bill Glaholt

    A tattoo should reflect who you are. You are going to have it (theoretically) the rest of your life, so it should represent you as you see yourself. Something that you won’t ever regret having (echoing @SpotWeld)

    You might want to take the time to design it yourself. That’s what I did when I got mine, and I will never regret what I have. Make sure it incorporates all aspects of your personality, your thoughts, and who you are – not necessarily what you do, who you know, or what the fad of the day is. And if it incorporates science, so much the better!

  105. l would add my vote for e^(pi*i)+1=0 Oh yes, and congrats. Glad to help anytime.

  106. rational

    DNA chain always looks badass

  107. ddr

    I vote for a scene showing the TARDIS flying past the Hubble Space Telescope.

  108. I’ll second Murff and says “The Little Astronomer looking through a telescope”. I mean, if I was a dad-astronomer, that would pull my heartstrings too hard *not* to get.

  109. i may be a tad bias, but i think you should get a combination frisbee/ flip flop tattoo…

    other suggestions:
    - james randi’s face
    - the words “skeptic 4 lyfe” gangster-style
    - the moon… though, i don’t know how accurate they could get in the detailing, so maybe just get a big circle… but if you’re going to go there may as well give it two eyes and a smile

    you’re such a bad ass, phil.

  110. How about something like xkcd comic #54 (click my nick for link). The actual comic would make rather poor tatoo, but perhaps it could inspire you for something in similar spirit.

  111. Shnakepup

    I agree with an earlier submission: get “SCIENCE!”. Just the word, by itself, in some sort of impactful font.

    Although the “the stupid, it burns” image would be pretty sweet. Another idea would be a stay system or something. My sister got a tattoo of an atom on her wrist and it looked pretty sweet. Definately get some color there.

    I guess keep it simple, though; you have to consider that tattoos fade, so you don’t want to get anything too complex.

  112. You could do this again, but without the pants. Although that might be a tad NSFW to photograph http://www.flickr.com/photos/11903003@N05/2981260511/

  113. I would say (from someone who has a few tattoos himself), it should be personal and original. Therefor, the fact that you are a brilliant brilliant man of deep space, I would suggest it be a rendition of your favourite cluster of stars. And because you are also a brilliant man with a quirky sense of humour, I suggest you add a single blue hair to be tattooed next to it (as a nod to the Sigler). Congrats Phil on hitting two million. :)

  114. How about “Einstein makes the world go round.”

  115. Jesus riding a dinosaur while pointing at UFOs coming from Mars administering cheleation therapy to bigfoot on the set of the faked moon landing.

  116. Observe
    Hypothesize
    Test
    Analyze
    Report

  117. Caffiene molecule is simple, geeky and becoming fairly recognizable these days. May be too simple for what you want, however.

    I have a feeling you’re going to get a stylized version of Eta Carinae…

  118. BMurray

    “E pur si muove!”

    Do some research, though, and find someone who specialises in text. You’ll want a nice period italic, I think. A strong all caps serifed Latin would also be good (even distressed a little), and maybe more appropriate.

  119. Zach

    You could always get the diagram off the Pioneer plaque (minus the naked man and woman to stay work-safe, I suppose). And nthing the suggestion of something off the voyager record.

  120. What about your trademark astronaut with boxing gloves? I’ve always loved that one.

  121. I would keep it simple:

    “I think.”

  122. The Pleiades! (although Orion would also be cool)

  123. Reginald

    I upgrade my suggestion to ddr’s improvement.

  124. The Flying Saucer Galaxy, of course.

    And I know a great parlor in town if you need a recommendation.

  125. Kaa

    I think that whatever you get, you should have the entire experience filmed for posterity, so the rest of us who are too chicken to ever do something involving multiple…needles…into the…[hurk] skin….

    Yeah. Film it. :)

  126. Of course, there’s the transmission message that we sent out to the stars in ’74. (Linked on my name). Wrap that around the arm maybe? It’d be severely geeky (not to mention spectacularly 8-bit)

  127. Sarg Bjornson

    Man, just cheat:

    Ask for a tattoo of… The Invisible Pink Unicorn!

    (Blessed be her Holy Hooves)

  128. I’ve got quite a few tattoos myself so here’s my 2 cents (you asked). The problem with asking strangers what your tattoo should be is that tattoos are personal and the decision behind them is unique to each person. The size you have limited yourself to might also make your tattoo look kinda girly. No offense but, I mean, a tiny 2×3 inch tattoo on a man’s arm looks like he wussed out. Maybe think of a better location for a small tattoo or get a bigger piece done. Personally I think something cool like a favorite Hubble image would be fun or maybe one of those incorrect designs of the Solar System that Kepler made as a nod to Bad Astronomy (I think they’re called platonic solid models), but really when it comes down to it you’ll be the one in the tattoo chair who has to live with it. Also, remember, lighter colors fade faster, so if you want lots of yellow (like in a moon, star or the sun) it’ll fade much quicker than a black heavy tattoo. They don’t make glow in the dark tattoo ink, but they do make ink that will glow under a blacklight. So you could get say a tattoo of a man shooting an arrow, and when put under a blacklight all that would show up is the glowing stars forming the constellation of Orion, for example. I wouldn’t recommend getting a whole tattoo in the blacklight ink unless you’re a raver or someone who is around them a lot, but I do have one myself and people always like seeing the lightning bolt light up when I’m at a bar with a blacklight. Anyways, I’ve rambled enough now, hope this helps at least some.

  129. Matt

    I recently got a science-based tattoo. You should do what I did, and ink the proof for an equilateral triangle. It’s simple, beautiful, and mathematical! How much more nerdy can you get? Here’s a link to the best pic I could find of it: http://schools-wikipedia.org/images/189/18965.jpg

  130. The Supreme Canuck

    What about the graphic on the Pioneer plaque that shows the position of the Sun relative to 14 pulsars and the centre of the galaxy? It’s just abstract enough to be a conversation starter.

    Or maybe something based off of a renaissance astronomical drawing, kind of like this:

    http://astronomy.nmsu.edu/nicole/teaching/ASTR110/lectures/lecture11/pics/heliocentric.jpg

  131. Tim G

    How about:

    Heliocentrism is a lie!

    Everything revolves around Pluto.

    show an illustration of all the real (he he) planets and the sun revolving around Pluto

    Be sure to show the tattoo to Neil deGrasse Tyson, he will agree.

  132. knobody

    how about something like the image on the cover of death from the skies, but shrunken down a bit with a black, starry background. and for a bonus, have the background stars done in fluorescent ink, so they show up in black light.

  133. Bill

    Ideas:
    E=MC2
    A picture of the Milky Way (with a “You are Here” pointer of course)
    Obey gravity, it’s the law.

  134. TheElkMechanic

    Another vote for the Face on Mars. With the LEM sitting on top of it.

  135. Scott D

    An image of earth rising over the moon. Sort of like this
    http://inventorspot.com/articles/japanese_spacecraft_records_full_earth_rising_over_moon_13000
    but more artistic.

    The Great A’Tuin would also make a cool tatoo

  136. Kristy

    Something having to do with space…the navy background. BUT something I’ve seen recently, that ink you can only see with black light. UV ink I think it’s called. But moon, stars, the galaxy with all the planets? I do like the idea of wrapping it around your arm. I like the “use lots of color” idea…I’m big on bright colors, too.

    good luck. Thanks for your writings and Tweets.

  137. If it was me, I’d probably go for a constellation (for me, the Southern Cross – yay for us Southies!). But I don’t really know, something else astronomy related perhaps.

  138. RAF

    Sure have been a lot of posts since this morning…WOW!!

    How about something simple…something only you would have…like the letters “BA”.

  139. Charles Boyer

    “Woo Woo!”

  140. foofoomagoo

    Yeah, I’m going to have to second the “The Stupid. It Burns!” image.

  141. How about a temporary henna tattoo?

    Fulfills your commitment, goes away in a week or so.

    //Hates tattoos.

  142. jonathan

    Why not something tasteful, like a sword-wielding fire-breathing dragon that can shoot lasers out its eyes?

  143. Lao Tzu

    I’ recommend:
    - the cover of Death from the Skies
    - The message “Vaccines don’t cause autism”

    or (the whole universe or nothing…):
    - WMAP’s Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation map.

  144. Katie

    Since this will be permanent, I would think of it as a mark of accomplishment rather than the result of a bet! And to mark such an accomplishment, the tattoo should commemorate something that set you on this path… what event or image or person originally got you interested in science and skepticism? What keeps you motivated in your work? Get something that reminds you why you do what you do!

  145. Isernbreegen

    Yes, I agree with the JREF logo. That’d be classy :)

    Whatever it’ll be – you’re gonna tape it when you’re getting tattoed, aren’t you? Pretty please?

    Apropos JREF, I’ll have to go to the Customs Office tomorrow and pick up a package from the JREF, probably my membership card. Is it dipped in gold or why does the Customs Office bother?

  146. Helioprogenus

    A stylized tat of binary black holes swirling into each other

    The inflationary period juxtaposed over atomic soup

    Gamma rays with hot gas jets emerging from a neutron star

    A magnetar shifting magneting fields to the threshold

    Eta Carinae

  147. The Mad LOLScientist, FCD

    “Everything revolves around Pluto” LOL!

    I say Hubble. Appropriate considering that you worked on it.

  148. Phil likes telescopes. Phil has a 10″ Dobsonian, if I remember correctly. Hows this:

    Ask about my 10′ Dob.

  149. Glenn

    While a constellation would be very cool the first thing that I thought of was a comet with tail and some background stars. With all colors like on the latest post that you had would be very very cool.

  150. The logo of the United Federation of Planets!

    If you’re hardcore enough, that is.

  151. QUASAR

    Can it be any faker than that?

  152. Sir Eccles

    Just thought that maybe you could get a tattoo of an invisible unicorn then get into semantic arguments about whether you actually got the tattoo or not.

  153. John Powell

    How about a phrase that is both skeptical and succinct? Like…

    OH YEAH?!

    Seriously, I add my support to the “The Stupid, it Burns!” cartoon.

  154. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Circling the arm (or your 2×3 ” spot, if that’s preferable):

    “Astronomy makes the world go around. The world go around. The world go around.”

  155. Tiki Idyll

    I know other people have suggested it as well, but I think your asteroid should be on it someplace.

  156. U747

    Awesome!

    I’m actually trying to go this Thursday to get the word Freethought tattooed on my arm. I currently have a peace sign.

    It is very addicting! you’ll want a second one not long after you get this one.

  157. Christine P.

    I immediately thought SN1987A. But I like the stylized comet idea too. And the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    How many votes do we get? ;-)

  158. highschoolphysics

    PZ’s face would be pretty cool.

    Or a gorilla riding a shark, fighting a robotic T-rex on the surface of the sun.

  159. Tyler

    “Ad Astris, Scientia” The motto of Starfleet Academy; which could be translated as “Knowledge comes from the stars”

  160. I have a caffeine molecule on my left shoulder blade. As pointed out, it’s getting a bit clichéd, but meh. The XKCD comic linked by MJD is a good one, but overall I’m a fan of basic line art.

  161. eudemonist

    Stylised Ouroboros/Benzene ring

  162. A promise of a tattoo without alcohol involved? That’s a first.

    The guardians of the science tattoo emporium await your entry to its hallowed halls.

  163. For shame, Tyler, it’s

    *Ex* Astris, Scientia.

  164. sirimurthy

    Colorful Saturn is the way to go.

  165. Desktop Icon

    Have your entire body covered with a tattoo of dark matter. Then, people can say “I think Phil is standing right here, but I can’t be sure.”

  166. Utakata

    Have something wrapped around your arm that says: “Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space.”

  167. pumpkinpie

    I am the third to have thought immediately of SN 1987A. Did you do some research on that? I think the only problem is that it would be hard to get it to look right, since we’re used to it on a black background. I think that would apply to any astro image, though, except for planets.

  168. Efogoto

    Haven’t you got some kind of representation of asteroid PhilPlait? If you don’t stick up for it, who will?

  169. Todd W.

    How about a crocoduck?

  170. Mike

    A simple tattoo of a galaxy…your favorite, of course.

  171. ChicagoMike

    Check out flipscript(dot)com – you’ll waste hours creating ambigrams of every word combination you can think of. They make for interesting / unique tattoo ideas.

  172. withheld

    A simple model of the solar system and “I (heart) heliocentrism”

  173. The Supreme Canuck

    Chris wrote:

    “They don’t make glow in the dark tattoo ink, but they do make ink that will glow under a blacklight. So you could get say a tattoo of a man shooting an arrow, and when put under a blacklight all that would show up is the glowing stars forming the constellation of Orion, for example.”

    I actually really like this idea.

  174. “Death from the Thighs” would be humerus ;-P

  175. Socr8s

    My original thought was an observatory on a mountain top looking up at the stars. But, I also like the idea of the cover of your book.

  176. Cheyenne

    3 small tat’s together arranged in a triangle

    -A small DNA helix
    -Hydrogen molecule
    -Saturn

    Real simple, timeless, and shows three different areas of science. Ooh, maybe add the symbol for Pi in the middle.

  177. Radwaste

    I can’t believe so many thoughtful people can’t figure out that starfields and other celestial bodies just flat don’t show up on skin if they’re depected literally.

    “Teh Stupid, It Burns” isn’t restricted to astronomy and doesn’t show your point or profession. “Oh, you’re a liberal?” “You misspelled ‘the’, there, sir.”

    And text of any kind just doesn’t say as much as a picture, in addition to being something anybody can do with a ball-point pen. I can wear a t-shirt for that, get more detail and say more.

    What I’d expect of an astronomer is a recognizable, but slightly stylized “photo” of a traditional instrument, such as a foreshortened view, from behind, of a reflector scope, with a fellow up at the front looking in the eyepiece; I can see the star he’s looking at above the barrel of the scope. If you can bring the size of the tat up, the star can be a galaxy. Ink gets muddy over some years. It’s not a photograph.

    But the BA family has better ideas than I, I’m sure. We’ll see it at Dragoncon!

  178. Yaron

    My recommendation is for the caffeine molecule. It is scientific. No one would recognize it immediately. Looks pretty good on a t-shirt and I suspect that most scientists today would not be able to function without it.

  179. Lindsey

    The cross-section of a Nautilis shell as it is a representation of Fibonacci’s Sequence in nature.

  180. rhea

    How about:

    BAD
    AST
    (ronomy)

    With the “(ronomy)” bit small enough to fit justified below the “AST” bit.

    Many congratulations!

  181. Bruce

    “Vaccinated”

  182. UmTutSut

    Marvin the Martian looking through his telescope….

  183. Jesso

    I love the suggestion for an Apollo astronaut footprint. Simple, but it says so much.

  184. Todd W.

    @Radwaste

    slightly stylized “photo” of a traditional instrument, such as a foreshortened view, from behind, of a reflector scope, with a fellow up at the front looking in the eyepiece

    Or he could get the picture of himself from a certain calendar, but I think that might be somewhat narcissistic.

  185. foolfodder

    Maybe: “Without imagination, science is a dictionary.”

    I like the, Pluto: “I’m a planet too!” suggestion though.

  186. IXI JIM IXI

    “That’s no moon”

  187. IXI JIM IXI

    “Loves to look at Uranus” would get you some attention.

    Maybe not the RIGHT attention…

  188. nichole

    no no no I got it!

    An astronaut riding a squid like that Slim Pickins guy rode the atom bomb! What was that movie, Dr. Strangelove?

    Would be so awesome.

  189. Kitty'sBitch

    Am I the first to suggest getting Uranus on your anus? Pretty obvious really.

  190. Andrew

    A barcode tattoo would always be nice, though I might have been thinking about James Cameron or 2002 FOX Television shows when I thought that. Another good one might be the symbol of the Klingon Empire( Qua’Pla!), or Torchwood.

  191. timur

    There is another typo in BeinSilly’s original comment: portarit should be portrait.

  192. IXI JIM IXI

    I think you should go for barbed wire around the bicep. That’s hardcore.

  193. If you really wanted to have something “stellar”, and something that might make good old Colbert run in terror, then why not a tat of Ursa Major?

  194. I can list some tips to you:

    1) Trust your professional. Choose a good and reliable tattooer;

    2) Choose a theme/draw/image that you really enjoy;

    3) Add a personal touch on it, something that makes sense to you, then you won’t get bored looking at it along the years;

    4) Listen to the advices of your reliable tattoer. If he/she says that this image won’t fit well on your arm, ask him/her to modify the image to you.

    5) When the tattooer copies the image to your skin, take a look at it and look for details like the position, orientation and things like this. If the image isn’t well positionated, ask him/her to erase it and copy it over again.

    6) Tattoo means pain. But don’ t worry, it isn’t that bad. :-)

    I’ve waited at least ten years to get my first tatto and then I finally got an old school ship on my right calf muscle (is this the correct term? :-) ). And to add a personal touch on it, I asked to include the mons mensae constellation at the sky.

  195. I like BeinSilly’s idea or something along these lines <– I'm sure a tattoo artist would do magic with a concept like that

    alternatively, you can just have the NASA logo and text "owning pseudosciences since 1958" or "kick pseudoscience ass since 1958"

  196. basso

    Just thought you’d like to know that there are more suggestions on the Fark main page.

    http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=4316817

  197. Tattoo of Richard Hoaglands’ face outlined by a red circle with a line through, and under it the words:
    “The Stupid, it burns”

  198. Christopher Jones and I are brainstorming on your behalf.

    Designs forthcoming.

  199. Given that it’s going to be there a long, long time, something not too trendy would be best. How about:
    - an atom
    - the milky way galaxy
    - the design on the Voyager plaque
    - the cosmic microwave background spectrum
    - ascent of man
    - your complete personal genome
    - pi
    - Kepler’s polyhedra

  200. «bønez_brigade»

    OK, here’s plenty of 2¢ (w/ many apologies for the length of my comment),

    Recommended serious ideas:
    - A profile of James Randi’s bearded noggin on one shoulder and Sagan’s beardless one on the other.
    - Adding to what Fake Al Gore said, get an orbital map of asteroid (165347) Philplait.
    - Chris’ idea for the Orion constellation blacklight tattoo is awesome, and very recognizable by day or by night; although, it would actually be a hunter with a club (or sword, depending on source) and not an archer.
    - Bootsman’s idea for the image of Voyager’s map to Sol; and the image of humans only if the female is also waving (it just seems less patriarchal).
    - Bill Glaholt’s idea for an arm band of the M13 transmission.

    Recommended not-so-serious ideas:
    - A pic of (an artist’s conception of) 2003 UB313 with lolscience sp33k, saying “Im ur soler sistemz, messin up ur definishunz.”
    - The Yuri’s Night image.
    - An image from one of the shirts at wearscience.com.
    - Rev. BigDumbChimp’s epic amalgam of pseudoscience.

    BTW,
    @Jim,
    Order of operations — ur doin it wrong!
    It’s F = G*[(M*m)/(r²)]

  201. Moose

    I can’t think of anything more appropriate than Hubble.

  202. matt

    How about a wire frame tech-spec of the Kepler orbital telescope.
    …this(-ish) without the labels…
    http://kepler.nasa.gov/media/images/FlightSgmntBodypointLbld.jpg

  203. OtherRob

    I’ll second (or third or sixty-seventh or whatever) the idea of a stylized telescope. :)

  204. Chip

    Has anyone suggested a Paradolia tatoo?

    Maybe a group of imitation freckles and subtle skin color changes that look inconsequential up close but from 5 feet away form an image of Saturn or…?

  205. Gary

    “Discover Magazine”

    They bought the space, didn’t they? Now you’re a slave to the science-media complex.

  206. IVAN3MAN

    I want it to be safe for work, not too elaborate, something sciencey…

    Lithium Atom

  207. Maltodextrin

    Something simple and recognizable is good. Someone earlier recommended Saturn.

    But Saturn on it’s own is kind of boring. How abut Saturn in a cowboy hat… Fighting a dragon… And they’re both on motorcycles… That are on fire! Yes! That would be perfect.

  208. bigjohn756

    Knowing how much you like the ISS I would suggest a tat of it.

  209. chutz

    I would say either an image of Hubble or one of the Mars rovers. It should show up well in ink, be recognizable and are representative of both astronomy and human scientific accomplishment.

  210. Tim G

    I wonder how much Mrs BA will weigh in on this.

  211. Russ

    A full color Mandelbrot set would work.

  212. Ceci n’est pas un tatouage

  213. Dan

    My wife once considered getting a tattoo that looked like freckles in a particular pattern. She thought of getting a freckle Orion tattooed on her shoulder. She ended up getting something else, but I still think it would’ve been cool.

  214. Dren

    How about the Greek word for **skepticism** : σκέπτομαι or **skeptic**?

  215. Jill

    Not sure if this has been suggested as 201 comments was taking way too much time to read through…but anyway.

    A tattoo of Mars, but instead of the face on Mars, the face of Randi!

    Pareidolia + Astronomy = <3

  216. Santiago

    How about the symbol for an atom of hydrogen? You know, the dot with a circle around it with a little bump in it representing the electron. I mean, it’s only the most common element in the universe, what could be cooler than that?

    Also, it’s small and simple, unlikely to fade with age and distort when your skin inevitably gets a bit saggy.

  217. Jon B

    I’ll second and third an image of Eta Carinae. Although “Colbert” would be nifty, too.

  218. owlbear1

    B.A.

    In any font you like.
    :)

  219. My tattoo guidelines (I have just one tat):

    1. Make sure it’s nothing you will ever regret (i.e. nothing that could ever go down in your estimation, or let you down in some way. I can’t believe people put band names on themselves!)

    2. Make sure it looks artistic.

    3. Er…

    4. That’s it.
    :)

  220. tarrkid

    Get one of the exterior of Carl Sagan’s “ship” from COSMOS – the thing that looked like the top of a dandelion seed. It flew away from the camera in the opening credits.

    Anyhow, it’s abstract enough to be — well — abstract, and to those of us in the know, it’s clever and awesome, because Sagan was, too.

  221. Michele

    What is it with all the squid-bashing? I like them and octopi, they sure are smarter than some of us.
    I agree with Katie; think of the things that influenced you toward science, stuff that’s meaningful to you. Don’t be silly, be witty if you have to be funny.

  222. don

    I’d go with either the recently release ARP274 colliding galaxies shot, or one of the Saturn images you have raved about from Carolyn Porco’s Casini imaging team.

    Or how about the “Pale Blue Dot” from Voyager or the “Earth Rise” image from Apollo 8?

  223. “To operate, insert coin”

  224. Z-man

    I saw one once that would be great for BA. Picture stitches holding open the skin, allowing you to see what is underneath. In this case, underneath was a galaxy and the stars.

    It’s a lot like this, only astronomical rather than spiderman: http://www.geekologie.com/2008/04/23/spiderman-tat-1.jpg

  225. Phil, how about a representation of this poster I have on my uni office wall:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/photo.php?pid=1717480&id=603247531

  226. Kyle

    SN1987A, or Hubble, or Fermi, didn’t you do some work with/for it?

  227. How about something referencing asteroid philplait? It’s personal, cool, has a great story, and is a beautiful way to remember Jeff.

  228. You need to get…

    The Squid of Science !

    That will pay proper homage to our cephalopod masters AND torque up PZM at the same time. You can’t lose!

  229. Wingnut

    I say you do a the DNA double helix, but instead of chain of molecules making up the strands, it is made of stars. The top is bright stars and the it fades into stardust towards the bottom.

  230. Joe Meils

    Okay, I kept thinking about this as I was working today… and I had a thought… How about, in a stylized font, with some kind of astronomical background, the words:

    “Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me Right Now Sweetheart?”

    The age old stellar-type memnonic, which also has the advantage of sending the right message to any girls who want to get a closer look at your tat…

  231. MarkAH

    How about a flaming fireball….then you could photoshop tha name of the current “doomed” person, city, county, state or country under it for the blog.
    Good looking and functional :)

  232. I’m siding with the other Hubble fans. After all, it’s not just some random telescope.

    I liked the idea by ddr tardis + Hubble

  233. Jenn S

    SN 1987 A

    naturally. :)

  234. Molglorf

    Get George Hrab’s head with a cartoon bubble that says “Über far!”

    Oh, right. You said safe for work… I think Geo’s disembodied head on your arm would be considered grounds for dismissal…

  235. Rob

    two galaxies colliding, perhaps post collision

  236. Beelzebud

    Something smart.

    Something related to science.

    Something you know you’ll never regret having.

  237. Todd W.

    @Marco Langbroek

    “To operate, insert coin”

    Would that make him a “Coin-Operated Boy”?

  238. Doug Little

    Hubble sounds good.

  239. jsclary

    How about a Dalek with it’s front doors open revealing the Cephalopod within.

  240. I’m going to second the suggestion that it be a cephalopod. Or a heart with our two names on it.

    By the way, last month I got 2.4 million page views without even trying.

  241. Heidi

    How about, “Astronomers do it Messier” :)

  242. Mchl

    Hey. Some biologists are spamming here! I thought there were filters in place to prevent that!
    :P

  243. I still have a problem with permanent alterations to the vital organ that is skin. Temporary (or long lasting and not permanent) is my vote for whatever you end up choosing.

  244. Paul

    Of everything I’ve read here, I think your top two choices at the Tardis and the JREF logo. Equations have some possibilities if you want to go that way. Ultimately though, you need to pick something that YOU can live with.

  245. 2+2=5
    (when 2 defined as 2.5)

  246. DED Sirus: A momentous effort, but how about a Full Sized tatoo of an Hydrogen Ion.

  247. ken

    Flying Spagetti Monster! The perfect tattoo.

  248. numsix
  249. john

    eta car. face your fears

  250. datdamwuf

    A “small” nova in glorious technicolor. Or perhaps the golden compass, your call! ;)

  251. BanzaiZAP

    If you are indeed a true Dr Who fan, you will recognize this. If you are not, then it still looks really cool:

  252. llewelly

    I’m sure I’m way too late in posting this, but Phil, you really need to hold out for a holographic tattoo. You know, the sort that uses lasers to project a 3d image of Eta Carinae straight into the viewer’s eyeballs.

  253. Fizzle

    The TARDIS, A Dalek or The seal of Rassilon.

  254. DTdNav

    [Arrow pointing up]
    B A

    or

    [Arrow pointing up]
    BADASTRONOMER

    or

    I can haz universe?

  255. spencer

    “our planet and our solar system are surrounded by a new world ocean The Depths of Space. It is no more impassable than the last.” Carl Sagan
    get it with rockets and stuff

  256. Dave Wiley

    I like: It’s Not That Simple

    I believe the sentiment came from Ben Goldacre. Works well juxtaposed with other people’s tattoos like “Visualize World Peace” or “Free Tibet”.

  257. Pieter Kok

    I expect to get flamed for this, but nevertheless I say: Don’t do it.
    Ultimately, tattoos make the wearer look unsophisticated.

  258. Kerry H

    I have many tattoo’s and each of them mean something special.I think it is nice that you ask us for our opinions but in reality ,it should be something special to you.Although we read your blog and listen to you on podcasts,I think you will be the best judge of what you want to be on you forever!Ideas of inspiration are good…see for me…I would say the obvious…something to do with your field of expertise…stars,galaxies or the solar system.I think if anyone has the answer….it could be your daughter.

  259. Ohio Mike

    How about a bit o’ sunshine?

    4p -> 4He + 2e+ + 2Ve

  260. BigBadSis

    Sorry. I’m not reading all 265 posts, so forgive me if this has already been suggested. I vote Übergeek. Personally, I’m with Pieter, Don’t do it. Yuck. Needles. Disgusting.

  261. vladi

    How about that Cassini picture of Saturn from behind. The Sun lights up the rings and has Earth at 10 o’clock, inside the G ring.
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/162056main_PIA08329.jpg

  262. Slivyr

    I think a Pi symbol. Not only math related, it contains a good element of mystery that makes science fun.

    I recently went for a very colourful chaos star.

  263. DGKnipfer

    Has to be a Tardis.

  264. Jason Porter

    Get a tattoo of Pluto, with the words “MINOR PLANET” across it in red stamp letters. Above this, in bold black, put the word “PLUTOWNED.” Below it, on a text scroll, put “September 13, 2006″ in a cursive script.

    Seriously.

  265. Earth being destroyed somehow.

  266. Don’t be an idiot. Tell you what, once something is decided upon, find someone with a kid. Give the kid a box of textas and have them draw it on you. Every few days when it fades, have them renew it. You’ll have something that is equal to a tattoo quality wise (if not better) and you’ll get to see what it feels like to have one without having to wear it around for the rest of your life.

  267. TychoF

    I recommend a phrase from XKCD:

    http://store.xkcd.com/xkcd/#StandBackScience
    http://store.xkcd.com/xkcd/#Science

    I prefer the latter, but being a father to a young child, it may not be appropriate.

    If you’ve got the room, you can always try for something more Astronomical::

    http://store.xkcd.com/xkcd/#HeightPoster

    Sadly, none of this is original. But, I believe that Mr. Munroe will gladly let you if you ask.

  268. Tokyo

    I’d go with the Voyager Golden Record(cover). That covers it all(human culture, tech, outreach, images, music, language, Gen X temporal, all shot into space as we probe for other life).

    And if yr into poetry this book would be awesome for you(the cover also being the VGR):

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41VZAEPAT6L.jpg

  269. How about “If the hive overmind jumps off a bridge I do too.”

  270. My first thought was that you should get the Serenity logo… But then I thought, no: it should be a portrait of Stephen Colbert!
    ;)

  271. Rusty

    American flag in lunar landscape.

  272. JackC

    An egg. Standing on end.

    Above, arched: “Anytime”

    Below, arched (so that the egg is surrounded): “Anywhere”

    Though I like some of the other suggestions above too. And I don’t care for tats at all. But hey – your blog, your body.

    Don’t go as far as the CO on Down Periscope though….

    JC

  273. Dallas

    I suggest a galaxy. I’ve always wanted to get a galaxy tattoo and I’ve always thought that getting a galactic merger would be a nice romantic analogy, although only if the significant other is nerdy enough to appreciate it.

  274. “Get a hydrogen atom tattoo on your forehead. Like Dr. Manhattan.”

    I wanted that but I was nervous about looking silly, so I got my penis tattooed blue instead!

  275. rob

    maxwell’s equations.

    or a dalek

  276. DaveH

    How about the equation for the Chandrasekhar limit.

    Nice good looking equation with even better looking consequences if exceeded :)

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/f/6/9/f69446e8eca0f52c23d5fc38cf02b2cd.png

    Possibly in the middle of a supernova.

  277. I just had a brilliant idea.

    “GoldenCasino.com”

    It’s a twofer.

  278. insanecarbonbasedlifeform

    I’m not giving away any of my good ideas for tattoos. You have peel them from my cold, dead skin.

  279. Jim Beaver

    Something along the lines of the Pioneer plaque.
    http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/astronomynews/2003S1/Pioneer.10.Plaque.gif
    Or something derived from elements of one or more NASA mission logos.

  280. Max Fagin

    Maxwell’s Equations, or the four solar equations

  281. Ron

    My vote is for Spaceman Spiff.

  282. Zar

    Sputnik!

    Or Galileo’s telescope.

    Or the USS Enterprise, or the Star Fleet symbol.

  283. The Crab Nebula, with the caption:

    “Pseudoscience:”
    “I’ll Go Supernova”

    [nebula drawing]

    “On Your Ass”

  284. I have to go with Dagger:

    Vaccine injection site —–>

  285. John V

    Since you <3 heliocentrism so much, how about a stylized version of Copernicus' drawing of such?
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Copernican_heliocentrism.jpg

  286. Sundance

    I’d say a concise statement of Occam’s Razor would be good. When someone spouts a load-of-nonsense explanation for something, you can flash your tat’ at them.

  287. Kathy A.

    My vote is a picture of a brain, since the majority of your blog posts are really about using one.

    For a temporary tat, I’d suggest a squid with the international “no” sign (circle and slash). ;-)

  288. 01101001

    Click to embiggen!

    Might work better on other anatomy, though.

  289. I really don’t have any good ideas, except that we clearly need a proper poll, so that PZ can crash it.

  290. Tattoos aren’t my thing, but I recommend,

    “ηὕρηκα!”

    (Eureka!)

    OR

    Specific to Astronomy, I recommend something historical, a page from the Al-Magest, or a portion of the Flammarion woodcut.

    And remember, any good tattoo is an image that also looks good saggy!

  291. Go with something simple and astronomical. No words. For example:

  292. Elwood

    Nice one, Ron – Spaceman Spiff has been on my tattoo ‘to-do’ list. Oh yeah. The pain. nevermind…

    Phil, I also like the egg idea from JackC,

    but recommend a ‘Goodies’ style font…

  293. stellar ash

    I got a tatt00 of a phoenix.

    The reason: after the big bang and the initial first generation of stars, every succeeding generation of star formation was caused by the supernova explosions of the previous generation.

    Also, every element heavier than lithium, comes from supernova.

    Life as we know it, requires those heavier elements.

    Therefore, we are from the ashes of previous burning stars.

    The analogy, while not perfect, worked well enough for me.

  294. «bønez_brigade»

    Phil, if you end up unable to decide amongst a few of your favorite ideas, how’s about letting us decide the champ? It’s a win-win situation for you, since you get a tattoo you want, and you become the victor of a web poll, regardless of its result (unlike the Node 3 incident).

  295. I have to second, or ninth or whatever, the XKCD cartoon, since it immediately came to mind. You can leave off the last word, or three, but a great conversation starter, and right up your alley.

    And then, John beat me to my second choice, which is something about Hubble. After all, you did work with it, and it’s potentially the most influential manmade satellite ever.

    But failing that, after reading this blog for far too long, I’d suggest a pic of Will Wheaton with the word “SQUEE!” underneath. Now is not the time to start being ashamed…

  296. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Actually, what about the CMBR color projection? It will be forever. [But colder.]

    You could always get the diagram off the Pioneer plaque (minus the naked man and woman to stay work-safe, I suppose).

    Ah, the links proved my memory right – the illustration is already “adulterated” to remove any implications of sexual nature. (Well, except the obvious fact that the two dissimilar beings could be representing two sexes. But no mechanism for it.)

  297. Jimmy

    Howzabout: Science – It’s not just for geeks.

  298. How about the Apollo lunar module? I also really love the picture of the mice galaxies from Hubble, galactic collisions are pretty cool.

  299. Madge

    For our anniversary, I bought my boyfriend a silver pendant with euler’s identity engraved onto it. Perhaps you could get something similar that’s astronomy related (or euler’s identity if you like it). Wein’s law, I don’t know. I’m an engineering student so it’s not really my thing.

    Perhaps a picture of the cosmic microwave background? That’ll be a conversation piece.

  300. TravisM

    WOOHOO! Not the bad kind, the excited kind… I may just join you, but I am afraid of teh needles. :(
    Several Hubble images of galaxies come to mind, not to mention Hubble itself! I have not read anyone else’s comments here, there are just too many, but I can imagine anything I might suggest has already been said…

  301. Why not just a hydrogen molecule? It’s a simple way of showing support for science; hydrogen often appears in astronomy; and Doc Manhattan used it. It’s awesome.

  302. Nes

    Toss in another suggestion for a favorite constellation. I’d keep it simple though, just some dots or small circles connected by thin lines. It’s already been mentioned by like 5 other people, but Orion has always been my favorite.

  303. Paul M.

    FSM
    May you be touched by His noodly appendage

  304. Toby

    I have three ideas for a tattoo:

    1.
    (Above) Text: r=2Gm / c^2
    (Middle) Image: A black hole (good luck to the tattooist picturing that!)
    (Below) Text: Memento te mortalem esse

    2.
    (Above) Text: I care for nothing,
    (Middle) Image: A coelacanth fossil (somewhat like the Darwin fish)
    (Below) Text: all shall go

    3.
    A list of the chemical formulae of the main compounds in the ink used in the tattoo. (My best guess is, if you ask the tattooist whether his ink contains, say, chromium, he will answer: No, man, it´s nothing but ink!)

  305. Mount

    Something kind of like an old sword and shield crest only with telescopes and a retro flying saucer. One of the swords might also be another scientific instrument, a slide rule maybe.

    Think this, only more sciency: http://netlinkenterprises.com/prodimages/AA861.jpg

  306. DK

    Why not the Vitruvian Man, on a background depicting a stylized Galaxy (ours).
    http://idmilano.com/blog/wp-content/photos/vitruvian_man.jpg but with a minimalist galaxy in the background.
    That’d be Science AND Astronomy.

  307. famulus

    A small square.
    A cursor arrow.
    Text: “Click to embiggen.”

  308. MadScientist

    You can get a tattoo on your bottom – something like:

    Waxing gibbous
    Waning gibbous
    Full Moon

    As an old MAD strip by Don Martin would suggest: beware of the werewolves.

  309. SteveB

    I agree with Zar – something simple but historical and meaningful (and, of course, scientific and astronomical): Galileo’s telescope.

  310. How about a diagram of the orbit of 165347 Philplait?

    Personal, astronomical and not too painful…

  311. Chris O

    Tattoo suggestion

    Bad Astronomy
    Good Science

  312. I figured I would cross post my suggestion for a doppler effect tattoo. Here is a rough visualization that I made of what it could look like:

    or if that doesn’t work, click here

  313. Mark

    I vote for some variation on this:
    http://www.bradkovach.com/wp-content/uploads/tryscience.png

    mainly, the stick figure itself.

  314. I agree with DC Bradshaw. Go with an H-R diagram.

  315. The problem with a hydrogen molecule is that you can’t accurately depict with a 2D (or hell even a 3D) static image. I mean, the famous Bohr model (electron in a fixed orbit like a planet) is just plain wrong. It would drive me crazy to have something so wrong inked on me.

    For those who don’t know, the “s” orbital where the electron resides is a sphere of probability density — it has no edges! Most illustrations put the boundary surface around 90 or 95% probability of finding an electron in that region. But quantum mechanics is strange, and there’s still a chance it could be somewhere else at a given moment. Plus an electron moves near the speed of light around a nucleus, and it has wave-properties, which makes it even harder to draw. It gets even tougher if there’s bonding, or a photon elevates it to a higher energy state, or an nearby clump of protons (say, an oxygen atom) “deshields” the H nucleus (as in NMR), etc, all of which perturb the pseudo-spherical shape.

    I haven’t even gotten into the issue of scale, but you get the point. The Bohr model is about as good as saying the Earth is a uniform sphere. Which, I’ll concede, that might be a good enough approximation in the grander scheme of things. But it would still bother me as a tattoo. (end pedantic nerd rant)

  316. ^ Meant hydrogen *atom* in the first sentence.

  317. Phineas J Whoopie

    Phil, let’s be honest. For you, there’s only one tattoo that can capture your true essence.

    Lifesize, on your upper arm, then you humbly wear tanktops forever after.

  318. TheFishThatFries

    Congrats phil. I remember when this was just a humble little blog, badastronomy.com, and you were still writing your moon hoax and astrology debunking and writing your movie reviews and that stuff on that lady who said planet x would destroy us all and your hogland debunking and that whole coast to coast business with hogland, good times….

    Anyway congragulations and my vote for your tatoo is simply E=MC^2. I know it’s super cliche but it’s the one equation I think that everyone in the world at least knows about and so those who may not have that much of an intrest in science will understand it when they see it. And I think putting something really pretensious that only someone who’s taken college physics or math would know about is a little, like I said, pretensious. E=MC^2 is simple, widely known and effective. And I think that the equation E=MC^2 also represents more than the mass energy equivalence, it represents a leap forward not only in the understanding of the universe but also the general public’s understanding of science. And as you are a popularizer of science yourself, I find it quite fitting.

    Once again congrats on getting so many views.

  319. Nick

    How about a syringe entering your arm that says “I love vaccination” on it?

  320. TheFishThatFries

    I ment to write pretentious

  321. Keith

    Don’t get one!!! I think tattoos are HORRIBLE. To me, a person with a tattoo is either so insecure that they need a tattoo so that they fit it or the person has some mental problems.

  322. n9891q

    Use henna so you can keep donating blood. You do donate blood, don’t you?

  323. nate

    A full-color illustration of the triple-alpha process? It’s smaller than a lot of other options and, even better, connects you to the stars :)

  324. Gail

    I have read all the responses…
    There is a continuing theme of current and trendy ideas. THIS IS FAIL!

    There are a few guidelines for real tattoos:
    * Make sure it is something you can wear with pride at the old folks home when you are 90.
    * Make sure it is NOT a trendy thing (like the bloke who talked about the tribal tattoos said)
    * Get a henna or a temporary tattoo put on FIRST to see how it sits on you and how you perceive it on yourself. It might look awful on skin and awesome on paper.
    * tattooing is art, make sure you put art on you
    * Make sure you pick something you like to expain or talk about, because you will be asked to show it off and explain it so many times…

    I have a wonderful tattoo on my foot the image of which I stared at every day for 5 years before I was happy to make it permanent. I also had the tattoo drawn on in pen and hennaed a couple of time before I was sure about it and the positioning.

    A tattoo isnt for christmas, it is for life.

    Ok sage advice aside – I like the stylised atoms. I also liked the idea of a milky way galaxy arm band (although I am struggling to imagine the milky way as being a good tattoo). Are there any astronomical objects that you really identify with?

    Oh actually, a good tattoo that might suit is the comet (assumption of it being halleys) from the Bayeux Tapestry. I love the idea of that actually. *thinks about getting it herself*

  325. MadScientist

    Hmm. Minnerva crushing the head of the serpent? You can have a laugh every time a christian mistakes it for the christian myths that plagiarized the Greek.

    Something by Escher?

    A Mobius band based on the Babylonian imagery of a serpent easting its own tail – and of course with a linear progression of evolution on the snake-band.

    “The stupid, it BURNS!”

  326. It should be positive. You may be angry at a lot of things in your posts – but tattooing a negative message will be a constant reminder of that anger. Wouldn’t you rather have something that makes you happy when you see it?

    I also think it could be something that looks like a face but isn’t. Then you’ll always have a good example of pareidolia with you.

  327. Miranda

    Phil,
    In all seriousness … I got a tattoo a couple of years ago and despite the tattoo nay-sayers I just LOVE it. And surprisingly, I found the experience of getting one very exciting as well – heck, maybe it’s the modern day mid-life crisis, but really, who cares? Anyway, prior to the tattoo, I did a ton of research trying to find my perfect image (and body placement) and ended up with a red-winged black bird on my shoulder blade.

    As many posters have already said, I agree that you should
    - avoid anything trendy or temporarily meaningful
    - try to think of something that has had meaning for you for the better part of your life and will likely to continue to do so (saturn comes to mind for you, to be honest, or something from Dr Who :)
    - once you have an idea, research tattoo sites for similar images to see if your choice transfers well to the tattoo “look” … also look for images that are close to what you want and keep them as ideas to give your artist.
    - select artists that have done work in a similar vein to what you are looking for
    - have a pre-meeting with a couple of different artists (these meetings should be free) and MAKE SURE you and the artist have a connection. I can’t stress this enough, actually.

    And like Alice Astro says, make sure it’s something you won’t mind seeing every single day and that it is something that makes you happy.

    Last thought … 3 years ago I thought tattoos were the stupidest things ever, 2 years ago I got one myself and now I just freaking love them! And I predict so will you!!

  328. madge

    If you are as scared of needles as I am how about just getting Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot!
    :)

  329. Togan

    I’d go with the “I love heliocentrism” image.
    Either that, or something really fancy and even more related to astronomy … the Crab Nebula maybe?

  330. eddie

    Gotta go with the Face on Mars.

    But only if RCH agrees to get a “The Stupid, It Burns” tattoo on his forehead.

    Tit for tat.

    Sorta.

  331. I have been watching your site(s) evolve since 1998. I probably commented back then as blakegraphic or wblake65, and a big congratulations on over 2 million page views in a month! You have worked hard and you deserve it.

    Go Phil go!

    Will Blake
    Houston/San Francisco

  332. Mchl

    Ok… a wicked and not to be taken seriously idea:

    Saturn V …. along the spine… :D

  333. Jason Dick

    I vote Einstein’s equations. Simple, direct, fundamental ;)

  334. Murdats

    You could also commemorate the end of battelstar with a tattoo of the battlestar, or just the battlestar logo.

    or the tardis.

    or something more sciency I dunno

  335. Nigel Depledge

    Eddie said:

    I’ve always thought a picture of a solar eclipse would make for a good tattoo. Rather than just making a big black circle with some wispy lines around it, invert it, so the actual sun/moon part of the picture is just skin, and the corona is tattooed in black ink. Maybe have the image be right as the sun is being fully occluded, or after finishing being fully occluded, when you get that nice film/light flare up on one side of the moon.

    Great idea. A total solar eclipse is on the cover of the Bauhaus album The Sky’s Gone Out.

  336. chesscanoe

    If you choose words, be sure to research an appropriate font – you’ll be looking at it for a long time….

  337. fizzyb

    I have several tattoos, with plans for more and I *love* my ink. My next tat will be a stylized version of M74, and I can hardly wait! I love the entire process.

    If you are going with a 2 x 3 …that’s not a lot of room for a lot of fine detail. I second the suggestions of a stylized comet or a ‘toon Hubble. I also like the idea of a stylized sun, along the lines of what is pictured on the cover of your book. Whatever you decide, congratulations on your decision to make the leap into the world of ink. :)

  338. MarkW

    The Arecibo message

  339. DrFlimmer

    A beautiful galaxy….

  340. The Yorkshire Sceptic

    Most people’s first tattoo *should* read:

    It seemed like a good idea at the time…

    Or how about:

    There are 10 sorts of people: those who understand binary and those who don’t.

  341. Bobby

    I’m going to echo some of my fellow posters:

    I think you should get a tattoo of a telescope.

    I know many people suggest getting a tattoo of an equation, or a constellation. From someone who is a pretty ardent tattoo collector, I would urge you away from anything that requires very straight lines and fairly accurate circles.

    What’s great about the look of tattoos is their ability to convey iconography, and a telescope would be awesome.

  342. ed

    A Mom style tattoo: http://blog.chopperstickers.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/momtattoo.jpg where HST (hubble space telescope) replaces MOM.

  343. Alan

    How about the mission badge from “Armageddon”?

  344. The Death Star. It’s the only logical choice.

  345. StevoR

    @ spencer :
    (April 8th, 2009 at 2:21 pm)

    “our planet and our solar system are surrounded by a new world ocean The Depths of Space. It is no more impassable than the last.” Carl Sagan
    get it with rockets and stuff.

    Great quote! :-) Nice idea..

    Adda nother to your list : just thewords : Badastronomy & Deatthformteh Skies one underneath the other. Then with each new book you can tattoo the title on your back, fighter ace “kills” style .. ;-)

  346. StevoR-Correcting

    TAKE II

    (Hmm.. maybe you should add a tattoo saying :

    We really need to get an editing capability on this blog!!! ;-)

    @ spencer :
    (April 8th, 2009 at 2:21 pm)

    “our planet and our solar system are surrounded by a new world ocean The Depths of Space. It is no more impassable than the last.” Carl Sagan
    get it with rockets and stuff.

    Great quote! Nice idea… :-)

    Add another to your list :

    Just the words : ‘Bad Astronomy’ & ‘Death from the Skies’,

    one underneath the other. Then with each new book you can tattoo the title on your back, fighter ace “kills” style … ;-)

  347. Grizzly

    How about that Sagan (Hoagland?) inspired drawing etched into the Voyagers?

  348. Tom K

    I am amazed at how many people are making suggestions, rather than pointing out that tatoos are universally ugly and stupid.

  349. Flying sardines

    Well that’s your opinion Tom K. Others may – & do – disagree.

  350. Wildride

    Bad Astronomy to the Bone!

  351. Trie

    Hydrogen molecule.

    Photobucket

  352. Asimov Fan

    Noted this already on the “Cool stars = different life?” thread too but thought I’d note it again here :

    Isaac Asimov wrote an excellent novel titled ‘The Gods Themselves’ after a quote from Shakespeares King Lear done in three parts for each section :

    Against Stupidity..

    The Gods Themsleves…

    Contend in Vain?

    (The question mark being Asimov’s saving hopeful note addition.)

    Now I think that quote suits this BA blog to a T & could make a good slogan here .. Or even a good tattoo for the BA himself! ;-)

  353. Numenaster

    “Ad Astra” — both an homage and an inspiring goal.

    Or science triumphing over superstition: like this

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/numenaster/3426882784/

  354. J

    Just make it temporary. It’s too dumb to make it permanent. You’re not dumb, therefore….

    Why jump on the bandwagon of a stupid, shortsighted fad?

    Make it temporary. Then it doesn’t matter what you choose. You can say it’s a special, cutting edge, changing tattoo. Maybe you’ll start a new, smarter fad.

  355. Bill Roberts

    Ad Astra Per Aspera

  356. Damned at Random

    I like the backlit Cassini view of Saturn and face on MArs suggestions
    A spiral galaxy would also be great or Hale Bopp with its 2 tails (best comet of my lifetime to date)or the Horsehead nebula.

    If it was me, I would get Marvin the Martian with a spiral galaxy in the background

  357. laserfuzz

    A Caffeine molecule or Hubble Telescope looking at Eta Carina.

  358. The Mutt

    Why don’t you get one that says, I’m an idiot?”

    Wait, all tattoos say that. Never mind.

  359. Perhaps you could somehow combine motifs from the Herzprung-Russell diagram with the universal rRNA tree of life…

    You should totally try to have your tattoo done on either Miami Ink or LA Ink. It would be a nice opportunity to raise awareness about skepticism/astronomy/science education. Assuming either show comes back for another season, I mean. :)

  360. The Mutt and Tom K: Not your body. Why the hell do you care?

    I too think most tattoos are teh suck, especially the ubiquitous barbed wire and hip-butterfly garbage. It barely qualifies as artwork if you plan to hide it. However, the large, creative tattoos I find more intriguing, because they can’t be hidden, and they clearly have a meaning to the owner (and who am I to judge that?). I could never be decisive enough to ink, say, my entire back. And I’m puzzled why someone would want a large scene on their skin, rather than the wall at home. But again, to each their own; I suffer no harm for a person’s decision to spend money on ink, and so I don’t expect my opinions to count for much.

  361. Richard Smith

    I’d like to nth the Arecibo message. It can even be colourized for “clarification”.

  362. That Arecibo message looks like a red humanoid robot shooting brain-lasers and Space Invaders (like the video game). I assume the white is supposed to be a satellite dish, but still, it could be interpreted as a weapon aimed at the green men in the sky ;)

  363. SeanDudeMan

    Get Neil Tyson’s portrait…..

    …hey, you said he needed help with publicity.

  364. Leon

    How about an image of Saturn, with the inscription “Yes I’m married. See my ring?”

  365. Wendy

    I throw my vote in for THE MILKY WAY! It’s beautiful, it’s work appropriate, and it means something to all of us.

  366. «bønez_brigade»

    I hereby give myself a “corrections – u did it wrong!”

    So, Jim, with appologies, I say,
    “order of operations – ur doin it right!
    aesthetics – ur doin it wrong!”

    ————

    Another tattoo idea (in two parts) has come to mind:
    A Mount Rushmore design on each shoulder, one side using the noggins of 4 of the Griffith Park 6 [Copernicus, Hipparchus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Herschel (+Brahe, of course)], the other side using the heads of 4 great names from “modern” astronomy (Sagan being one, for certain).

    ————

    Also, Ryan’s ideas were probably the best generic, astronomy-related designs I’ve yet seen on here (and there have been many).

  367. Garrett

    Dear Mister,

    My suggestion for your tatoo would be some kind of design that incorporates those swirling patterns they use to illustrate particle collisions. Maybe going around a giant galaxy or something like that represents the big picture in physics. This would be bad ass because it will represent the two limits that we have pushed our knowledge of nature to, the unimaginably big and the unimaginably small.

    good luck with whatever you pick!

  368. You could always do a tattoo of home… a big blue marble. Never forget your roots is what I always say!

    Hmmm… I guess a tattoo of a prosimian would also work in that vein.

  369. jimmy

    How about:

    “I used to be a scientist but now I’m a frantic attention whore?”

    ’bout right?

  370. defective robot
  371. BadBaltoNephew

    The caffiene molecule.

  372. Dwatney

    Think big! Cover your back with Jenny McCarthy’s Playmate centerfold image!

  373. Dan J

    “E pur si muove!”

    It’s the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about this, and I saw it mentioned above, so I’m not the only one who thinks this would be appropriate. I’d suggest perhaps a nice uncial, perhaps even “illuminated”, but with a more astronomical theme than what religious texts of that period generally use.

    I have several tattoos, and don’t regret any of them.

  374. Lyr

    I have a velociraptor tattoo on my hip. :)

  375. TS

    You should put it in the exact same spot as the photo above and it should say: “I’m The Bad Astronomer and this is not a toy!”

  376. I got two stars on my forearms a couple of years ago. I wanted originally one star, and couldn’t decide where. As soon as I decided on two (celebrating being an astronomer and publishing two science fiction novels, both with “star” in the title), it unlocked more possibilities.

    Now, you’re not allowed to do the exactly the same thing, at least not without a serious bromance. (Ugh, I used the term…) Not that I don’t like you, Phil…

    Also, how about something just quasi-stellar, like a quasar? Close enough? Or Eta Carinae? Or the entire Pleaides, or the Orion Nebula with the Trapezium?

  377. Im over on Zimmers emporium. I have Pi, Fibonacci, and the Schwarzschild equation on my right arm.

    Knowing what I know of you, I would suggest something Dr. Whoish.

    Tardis was my first thought, but someone else mentioned Dalek. Dalek would be very cool. Its bad boy enough to be a tattoo, and sciency enough to be nerdy.

  378. PeaDevil

    Clearly you need to have your entire back covered in a too scale version of the milky way galaxy.

  379. The Mutt

    Brock: “The Mutt and Tom K: Not your body. Why the hell do you care?”

    I don’t much care. He asked. I answered.

    Remember how cool you thought you looked in high school? And how appalled you are when you look at yourself in your old yearbook?

    Imagine if you had to wear those clothes and that hairstyle for the rest of your life.

  380. Much yes to the footprint on the moon idea. Best idea ever!!

  381. mattb
  382. This is easy. Get a tattoo of the name “Serenity”. The name was destined for something out of this world anyway.

  383. I immediately thought of Dr Manhattan’s logo. Looking at the posts here I guess that was pretty obvious. Or, if you want to do minimalist…how about a “pale blue dot”? But I can see that being looked as a cop-out.

  384. Okay, it’s rough, but I whipped this out in a couple minutes…

  385. Or how about the design from the front of an astrolabe?

  386. Oops. Didn’t mean to post an image that big. Sorry, Phil!

  387. Karl

    I liked the idea of the milky way, edge on, around the arm.
    Perhaps an arrow and the text ‘you are here’, as suggested above.

    A möbius strip around the arm would be kind of cool too.

  388. Cheyenne

    Did you pick one yet BA?

  389. That’s one fine astrolabe! I want one! Not sure I’d want it tattooed on me, tho…

  390. S Johnson

    Just came across this thread. Have you chosen a design yet? I, too, am in the market for an astronomy tattoo. Already have two science tats (posted on Carl Zimmer’s science tattoo blog) and two math tats. Stay away from lettering unless it is stylized in some artistic manner (My math tats involve tribal font lettering of Gauss’ and Stokes’ Thms, and the calculus of residues, with artistic framing in the form of the Greek letters alpha and omega, resp.). I’m leaning toward some stylized version of the H-R diagram for the astro tat, probably just below the photon tattoo on the right arm.

  391. Lonny Eachus

    I think you should get a tattoo of a 1-pixel transparent tracking .gif image.

  392. OK – this will sound gross but hear me out: “Paris Hilton’s Hoo-hoo.”
    Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “I would prefer something that I would not be ashamed of when I’m old.”

    But think about it! Everybody’s already seen it, so it won’t attract much attention – and better yet, as your arm gets old and saggy so will her hoo-hoo, thus maintaining the veritas so important in tattoo artistic integrity.

  393. Something Eta Carinae related?

  394. Justin

    DON’T
    PANIC

    (In large, friendly letters.)
    (Don’t forget the apostrophe.)

  395. Lisa Crow
  396. An extra set of balls is always useful.

  397. Hey Phil! Where’s the follow-up pic?

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