The Sciences

In Praise of Mistakes [Science tattoo]

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerSep 18, 2010 1:04 PM


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Andrew, 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.

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