In Print: Chemistry Tattoos
Jun28

In Print: Chemistry Tattoos

The Newscripts blog would like to be closer Internet buddies with our glossy print Newscripts column, so here we highlight what’s going on in the current issue of C&EN. "Think before you ink" is probably a good motto for people considering a tattoo. "Think before you link" is probably a good motto for people considering posting a picture of their tattoo on Reddit. The Newscript gang is only guessing here, but user Dolonotikz could've used a little more thought before burning the line structure of MDMA--the active ingredient in Ecstasy--into his flesh and then sharing a photo of it with the Internet. As C&EN's Craig Bettenhausen writes in this week's Newscripts column, Redditors on the chemistry board were quick to point out that Dolonotikz' tattoo was chemically inaccurate--it had only two double bonds in what should be a benzene ring. "When I read the thread, the hilarity continued as folks then proceeded to argue the chemistry of how it would break down," recalls Bettenhausen. "It was geek-tastic, just like the sort of thing that used to happen in graduate school when grading exams. Then a few of the commenters started suggesting how the tattoo could be fixed, and I thought, 'Well I wonder if legit chemists have done better?' " So Craig asked the most legit chemists we know--C&EN readers--to share their own (hopefully accurate) chemistry-themed tattoos, and boy were there some cool ones. Check them out here: "Chemistry Tattoos." If you've only seen the print story, we ran more tattoos in an online gallery here. And since the story published, we've received even more submissions! Chaz Saunders sent in his periodic table back tattoo, and Ian B. Seiple sent in the ink he has of his team's palau'amine."When my team finished palau'amine three years ago," Seiple writes, "I promptly went to get the structure of the final product inked on my back, to make sure I never forgot the misery and strife of being a graduate student on such a project." Craig, who has a nonchemistry tattoo, noticed that a lot of the tattoos people sent in were in visible spots, so he's guessing many of them are meant to be conversation starters. "It’s something that the person wants people to ask them about," he says. "Which makes a lot of sense when you’re talking about getting a Ph.D., the act of spending 4 to 7 (or more) years becoming the world’s foremost expert in something madly specific." We'd love to hear more from you guys, so feel free to add your own stories in the comments section. We will continue to update this post with other photos and anecdotes. And if...

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