“My tattoo is taken from a 1950’s biology textbook. The reason it means so much to me is because of the relevence of the nitrogen cycle to the cycle of life. The horse dies, which feeds the plant, which feeds the horse. Its really quite beautiful.”Carl writes: We are each fleeting intersections of the Earth’s biogeochemical cycles, the paths of nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, and the other elements. The carbon cycle is the most familiar of those cycles today, because we are adjusting its knobs so that more carbon is shooting into the atmosphere than was the case before the Industrial Revolution, trapping heat from the sun. If we were to shut the knob off, atmospheric carbon would slowly subside over hundreds of thousands of years as it flowed further on through the carbon cycle, to the bottom of the ocean and ultimately into the bowels of the Earth.
The nitrogen cycle is important as well, and we are also adjusting its knobs. Today the nitrogen entering the world’s soil is moving at twice its natural rate, thanks to our production of fertilizers and burning of fossil fuels. The nitrogen that gets into streams flows out to the oceans where it triggers runaway explosions of microbes, leading to oxygen-free “dead zones” in places like the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. These dead zones would be far bigger if not for the help we get from a hidden part of the nitrogren cycle–bacteria in the soil and banks of streams and rivers. Some of these microbes have the biochemical wherewithal to pull nitrogen out of the water and turn it into molecular nitrogen or nitrous oxygen (N20), which diffuses into the air. But these bacteria cannot turn the knobs all the way back; the more nitrogen they are given, the less efficient they get at converting it. As the world’s population grows and releases more nitrogen, the hidden parts of its cycle may come painfully to light.
[Image via Wikipedia]
Jen writes: “Out of my interest for Chemistry and my heritage I chose to get his tattoo done almost a year ago. It is on the back of my upper right shoulder and it is a reminder of my philosophy for life “question all objectively.”
“I got my two tattoos the summer after I graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering. On the left shoulder is the recognizable radiation warning trefoil, and on the right is the U.S. Army’s hazard symbol for chemical weapons (I interpret it more as a general chemical warning symbol). Some would say that hazard symbols like these represent a desire to for isolation, but I like to think of them as my two pillars of training. That no matter what happens to me I’ll always have my knowledge of these two sciences to rest upon.”
Attached is my tattoo of the 17β-hydroxyandrost-4-en-3-one molecule a.k.a testosterone. I got it a couple of years ago after many years of thinking about getting it. I have a degree in biotechnology and am currently undertaking honours in molecular biology. I am studying the effects of glucocorticoids on fetal lung development.The tat has to do with my love of lifting heavy weights and the most important molecule for that is testosterone. People can take all the synthetic testosterones and steroid derivatives they want but nothing feels better than knowing after a heavy lift that all you used was that which your testes produced.
I also like to look at it and draw inspiration or just contemplate. I contemplate on what it is to be a man and what it means to be masculine and that it’s about strength of character and not just being strong. The best thing about it is that it’s unique and brings a smile when I tell people what it is – crazy scientists!
“The atom is on the left shoulder of Raychelle Burks, chemistry PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She got the tattoo upon turning 18 and deciding to pursue a career in science. She got the tattoo in her hometown of Pomona, CA at The Body Shop. The Chinese characters tattoo says “Scientist” and is on the left ankle of Matthew Shortridge, chemistry PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He got the tattoo upon turning 18 and deciding to pursue a career in science. He got the tattoo in his hometown of Lincoln, NE at Aavardaxx’s Tattoo. They met years later at UNL, started dating in the Fall of 2006, and soon learned they both had science tattoos. Two nerds meant to be together.”–Raychelle Burks
Here is a picture of my serotonin tattoo. I don’t know that it needs much more explanation than it’s my favorite neurotransmitter.–Hayley
“I am a biochemist, studying to be a molecular biologist, and the tattoo I am sending is the entry for carbon on the periodic table of elements. Since all living things on this planet at least are carbon based, from a chemical standpoint, it doesn’t get much more basic than carbon. Hence the tattoo.” –Erin
“Hey there Carl,”My tattoo is from an Irving Geis illustration of DNA. I was attracted to his attention to the molecular detail while also drawing in a representational spiral that doesn’t ignore the basic beauty of the double helix.
“This particular sequence (I’ve BLASTED) is too short to be specific to only one gene, but one human gene it’s found it is the 5′ UTR of one of our tight junctions.
“Pat Fish in Santa Barbara, CA did it for me with great skill.”
-Matthew MacDougall, 4th year medical student
Esther Kieserman writes: “it is the general formula of an Ester functional group (R-COOH-R). it has R and R’ groups to represent the carbons attached to it on either
side. i got it as a “got into grad school” present to myself when i graduated college. i am currently getting my PhD in molecular biology (specifically development) but have a chemistry name so i got this tattoo to represent my love of science.”
“Here’s a tattoo of glucose (b-D-glucopyranose, to be more exact) that I have on my back. Somewhere out there is a young lady with the same tattoo in smaller version on her ankle. Alas, a lost love…” –A chemistry professor