The Vaccine Tree (Plus An Extended Deadline For The Science Ink Book) [Science Tattoo]

By Carl Zimmer | September 30, 2010 12:38 pm

Vaccine tree of life tattoo_croppedShi-Hsia Hwa writes,

I’m a virologist in a biotech company in Singapore. Here’s my story: I’ve been interested in infectious diseases since I was a kid, because my father almost died of TB when he was an infant. I must have been the only kid who looked forward to mass vaccination days in school. For a field trip to the Philippines after my bachelor’s and my first job shortly thereafter, I had to be immunized against a lot of other things that the average person doesn’t.

The choice of motif was inspired by a verse from the Biblical book of Revelation (a k a Apocalypse): “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” The “tree of life” motif in Western folk art is a tree bearing various different fruits on its branches.

I was stupid and didn’t check the stencil after the tattooist smudged one part, which is why there are two “PV”s; one should have been “HAV” for Hepatitis A. Like everybody else in this part of the world, I’ve had the BCG but will not add a “TB” fruit until a truly effective tuberculosis vaccine is invented.

As I announced last month, I’m turning the Science Tattoo Emporium into a book called Science Ink. 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.

In just a few weeks, I’ve been inundated with lots of book-ready images–not just bigger versions of the ones I’ve put on the blog, but many new ones as well. I originally set a deadline of October 1 (tomorrow), so that I and my designers could put the book together in time for its fall 2011 publication date. A day before the deadline, we’ve got many more images than we set as our target number, which is gratifying. But we keep getting last-minute emails from people like Shi-Hsia Hwa with more ink to offer. Who are we to turn our noses to this stuff?

So here’s the deal: I’m extending the deadline to October 15. Contact me for submission details. And if anyone has had any trouble uploading their tattoo pictures, get in touch.

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

Comments (5)

  1. Check Boing-Boing and Wired for candidates. I guess you can invite people, right?

  2. Um…those are posts at Boing-Boing and Wired about my own project.

  3. One of the things I like about this science tattoo is that the meaning is a bit obscure, you would have to think about it before realizing that it was science based and not just a cool picture.


  4. Never mind; I think they’re yours.

    Google “scientific tattoos” for another set.

  5. I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but the Love Lab has been collecting marine science tats for quite a while:


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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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