How Do *You* Spell Brain? [Science Tattoo]

By Carl Zimmer | February 6, 2010 11:36 am

brain tattoo400Tim writes,

I’m a post-doctoral cognitive neuroscientist working in MR research at the University of Pittsburgh.  I stumbled across the Science Tattoo Emporium and wanted to share my own science based ink.

The attached image shows my second tattoo and the most directly science-themed ink (although the others are also peripherally linked to the career I love so dear).  The four hieroglyphic characters are the earliest written form of the word “brain” and are found in the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus.  Dating back to seventeenth century BC Egypt, the papyrus is perhaps the first neurological case study describing the symptoms of head injuries and the odd fleshy matter that was often visible in the most gruesome of head wounds.  These symbols and the story of the papyrus are the opening to the classic textbook “Principles of Neuroscience”, which I first came across when taking an undergraduate course in 2000.  In honor of starting my graduate research career in studying the brain, I got this tattoo while attending a neuroscience conference in NYC in 2002.

Anyway, hope you enjoy.  Thanks for putting together the gallery that lets me know I’m not the only geek crazy enough to make his passion a permanent part of his body.

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

Comments (8)

  1. NewEnglandBob

    This so does advance the cause of science in today’s complicated world.

  2. Interesting Tattoo.

    So, with Japanese characters are out and Egyptian hieroglyphics are in. :)

  3. jon

    who cares about tattoos.

  4. Tommy V

    It’s obviously a bird, two ceiling fan blades and a mouse which obviously means……..

    Feed and take care of the bird and turn the ceiling fan off when you let it out so the mouse doesn’t get a free meal!

  5. StevoR


    How else? 😉

    All bold? What’s with that?

    As for hoping I enjoy it (‘long w e’eryone else.) :

    Yes, yes I did. THX. 😉


    PS. I’m thinking of getting a good Hertzsprung-Russell diagram tattooed on my back! Top that! 😉

  6. Krissie

    I’m an undergrad neuroscience student in New Zealand, and when I was considering getting a neuro-related tattoo, this is the first thing I thought of. I also found it in the front of Principles of Neuroscience.

  7. S Johnson

    StevoR, I already have an hr diagram tattoo. It’s on my upper right arm, but in a highly abstract art form. You can see it at my webpage:

  8. Lindsey

    I’m a tattooist from Manchester with a number of other interests. cool tattoo! it literally says “Ais” and the fourth glyph is a determanative (a picture not a verbalized part of the word) it’s a pustule issuing pus, used alongside words to do with bodily fluids or bad smells. lol!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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