In Praise of Mistakes [Science tattoo]

By Carl Zimmer | September 18, 2010 9:04 am

penicillin tattoo440Andrew, a medical student, writes,

“I recently got a tattoo of Penicillin G on my arm.  As someone who stumbled into medical school as a non-traditional student after a few career missteps, I appreciate a good mistake.  There are few mistakes that were as amazing and important to medicine as the ‘discovery’ of Penicillin.  Had Alexander Fleming remembered to close his laboratory’s window, who knows where we would be in the fight against infectious disease?”

In case you missed my announcement over the summer, the Science Tattoo Emporium is going to become a book. Tentatively entitled Science Ink, it will be published next fall by Sterling. The images will be accompanied by some of my own reflections on the tattoos, in which I will unpack the inside jokes and strange histories of the science behind the pictures.

The ultimate purpose of the book, like the Emporium, will be to illustrate the passion that science can inspire. To that end, I also plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from the book to DonorsChoose, a great organization that funds science projects in the classroom.

To those who have already appeared in the emporium, and to those who have kept their sleeves tightly buttoned till now, I’d like to extend an invitation to submit your photograph. If you’re interested, please contact me for the instructions from my publisher.

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

Comments (5)

Links to this Post

  1. The Incredible Tattoo Mistake | September 19, 2010
  1. … though of course, the history of penicillin is a lot more than that bit of serendipity, it was the very careful, methodically and deliberate work of Florey et al.

  2. We’d like to review it when it’s ready. Also let us know if we can be of any assistance.

  3. Hi Carl,
    I found your blog this morning and blogged about you. I’m the Guide to Continuing Education for, part of The New York Times Company. Loved the story about Andrew’s tattoo.


    Deb Peterson
    Guide to Continuing Education

  4. Ditto to what Richie said, above. We here at Tattoosday have been a big fan of the Science Tattoo Emporium for years. Keep up the great work!


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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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