The Observer gets inked (+ more #scienceink news)

By Carl Zimmer | November 28, 2011 10:12 am

1. Science Ink excerpt: The Observer (The Guardian’s sister Sunday magazine) has put together a lovely excerpt from Science Ink. Along with a selection of images, they’ve adapted part of the introductory essay I wrote for the book. Here’s a snippet:

…Some people have watched this growing obsession of mine and scoffed. They see tattoos as nothing but mistakes of youth, fated to sag, or to be scorched off with a laser beam.

But tattoos are etched deep in our species. In 1991, two hikers climbing the Austrian Alps discovered the freeze-dried body of a 5,300-year-old hunter, who came to be known as Ötzi. His skin was exquisitely preserved, including a series of hatch-marks on his back and a cross pattern on his knee. A team of Austrian researchers determined that the tattoos had been made with ashes from a fireplace, which someone had sprinkled into small incisions in Ötzi’s skin.

Tattoos are preserved on other mummies from ancient civilisations, from the Scythians of central Asia to the Chiribaya of Peru. If, through some miracle of preservation, archaeologists find older human skin, I could easily imagine their finding even older tattoos. After all, two hallmarks of Homo sapiens are decoration and self-identification…

Read the rest here.

2. Cyber Monday sale! Both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have decided to offer Science Ink for 50% off. It’s yours for only $12.47. I don’t know if this is just a Cyber Monday offering, so click now.

3. More reviews of Science Ink  Check them out at Tattoosday & & Southern Fried Science. Several reviewers have pointed out that the book is missing a list of tattoo artists. We did put together a list, but it didn’t get into the first printing due to the publishing schedule. We’ll make sure it’s in subsequent printings; in the meantime, I’ve posted a list here.

 4. Science Tattoos Go to Harvard. I will be giving a lecture at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, 12/13 at 6 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public. (The parking is free too!) Details are here. I will have at least one anthropological specimen on display: this guy. (Any other Boston-area inked scientists, please shoot me an email if you want to participate!)

[Image: A geological cross section from Helen Malenda, from Science Ink]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

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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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