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Tattoos For the Math and Science Geek?

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the what's-wrong-with-a-slashdot dept.

Graphics 1186

An anonymous reader writes "I've been thinking of getting a sleeve of math and science tattoos for quite a while now. With the money saved up, the only question remaining is, what equations/ideas should I get? I know for certain that I'm going to include some of Maxwell's equations, and definitely Ohm's Law. So, if you were going to put a tribute to the great math and science minds on your body forever, which ones would you choose?"

cancel ×


Not me but... (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#32718238)

Someone I know recently got a lambda tattooed on his finger. Now he can bind people into expressions just by raising his middle digit.

I like the fermata symbol (4, Funny)

mollog (841386) | about 4 years ago | (#32718492)

I like musicians who get the fermata symbol tattooed on their bodies. (Hold me.)

Re:Not me but... (1)

MrFenty (579353) | about 4 years ago | (#32718510)

Hang on, someone I know just got a lambda for his birthday - are we talking about The Gimbo ?!


Before you do it (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#32718242)

Think twice. Do you *really* think this will be so important to you forever?

Re:Before you do it (4, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 4 years ago | (#32718308)

Even worse, what if we find out the laws are wrong?

Re:Before you do it (1)

captnbmoore (911895) | about 4 years ago | (#32718578)

If you get it done in the Phillipines then it will probably be correct if they laws do change.

Re:Before you do it (4, Insightful)

mabersold (1171751) | about 4 years ago | (#32718326)

Indeed. Remember, tastes change, but tattoos are permanent. Think that over a few times before getting one.

Re:Before you do it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718512)

Tattoos are far from permanent. You're spreading the same kind of FUD your mother use to spread. Just remember that the next time you go off on someone for distorting the truth.

Re:Before you do it (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | about 4 years ago | (#32718388)

do you *really* think that the laws of physics will ever be less important? :)
Personally, I don't have a tattoo and I never really thought of getting one. But if someones' gonna do it, I think math and physics are perfect.

Re:Before you do it (1)

karnal (22275) | about 4 years ago | (#32718398)

This is precisely why I don't have a tattoo. Of course, I did just buy a motorcycle, so maybe I'll have one soon enough.....

Re:Before you do it (3, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 years ago | (#32718438)

Well, if he saved up the money for a whole sleeve either a) he is paid ridiculously (or rather well with exceptionally few expenses) or b) he has thought about it for at least a few weeks.

I mean, if he was going for a big cock on his forhead, maybe $60 or so, then I would agree but... a person saving up for a whole sleeve has at least found out how much that costs and been saving up. I guess I am assuming that its a decent artist and going to be a bit more flourish than just written equations in a standard font (I would guess just having some guy scroll a whole bunch of equations on your arm would be pretty cheap overall if you agreed not to tell anyone who did it)

I have a small tatoo that I want to get, I don't need to save up cash for it, but, I have been thinking about it on and off for about 3 years, and havn't found an artist or posted on slashdot for advice... I imagine this one has been stewing a while.


Re:Before you do it (0, Troll)

zwei2stein (782480) | about 4 years ago | (#32718480)

Well, compared to loved-ones name, tramp mark, tribal nonsense and game character tatoos, this is kind of sane and possibly everlasting.

Still tasteless, mark of sub-average intellect and generally lame, but it is the one least likely to be source of regret.

Quite simply, (1)

jockeys (753885) | about 4 years ago | (#32718246)

P != NP

Re:Quite simply, (3, Interesting)

drewhk (1744562) | about 4 years ago | (#32718272)

It is better to tattoo P=NP, because you still can modify it later, if the opposite gets proven (just strike trough the equality symbol).

Re:Quite simply, (4, Funny)

jockeys (753885) | about 4 years ago | (#32718332)

P=NP? die, heretic scum!

Re:Quite simply, (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 years ago | (#32718520)

Granted, there is no way P=NP, but as long as you're being a little rebellious and impractical why not take a leap of faith?

Re:Quite simply, (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 4 years ago | (#32718364)

An unproved conjecture? That's too risky. Tattoos are forever!

Shannon (1)

drewhk (1744562) | about 4 years ago | (#32718248)

The definition of information Entropy would be my choice.

Euler's identity (5, Insightful)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 4 years ago | (#32718254)


Re:Euler's identity (0, Redundant)

chichilalescu (1647065) | about 4 years ago | (#32718434)

you mean $e^{i\pi} = -1$, [] , of course.

Re:Euler's identity (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 4 years ago | (#32718554)

While factually correct, there's a certain elegance making it equate to zero.

Euler's Identity, Entropy & Gaussian Distribut (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#32718262)

Personally, I've always enjoyed the beauty of Euler's identity [] , any form of Gaussian (normal) distribution which has a standard form here [] and entropy in regards to information theory [] . Of course, these are just personal favorites -- the last two because I am a computer scientist with so much college work hinging on them. You probably have personal favorites in chemistry or physics or another field even. Honestly, the loan formula [] is probably one of the most widely used and life changing formulas in the United States today -- especially given the recent financial crisis. I think it would be best for you to draw up your own formulas in a geometric display rather than someone else's symbols. I suppose that would require extreme precision on the end of the artist and also introduce interesting problems with the elasticity of your skin ... but I'm one for originality especially if you're about to mark yourself in a relatively permanent way.

Re:Euler's Identity, Entropy & Gaussian Distri (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718416)

I designed my tattoo in Photoshop, and brought the file in on a USB drive. The tattoo artist could print it right out on the contact?transfer? paper (the stuff that makes it stick to your skin - not sure what it was called) and could follow all the straight lines and angles precisely. Worked out very smoothly and easily.

Re:Euler's Identity, Entropy & Gaussian Distri (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 4 years ago | (#32718552)

I second Euler's identity. It's the foundation for much of modern technology.

obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718264)

Put all of the good stuff together: e to the i*pi = -1

Don't ask for other people's opinions. (5, Insightful)

Ed Bugg (2024) | about 4 years ago | (#32718270)

If you don't know what you want then just wait until you do. One of the worst things you can do for a tattoo is ask what other people think you should get. You'll end up with something that they want and it may be cool now but years down the road it won't mean anything to you.

Tattoo's are suppose to be for life. If it's something that you foresee down the road that you'll not be interested in and go "why did I ever do that, ugh that's so yesterday" it wasn't a very good idea.

the empty set (4, Insightful)

Saint Stephen (19450) | about 4 years ago | (#32718274)

The coolest math tattoo you could get would be nothing at all. Just hold up your arm and say "it's the empty set" and have them marvel at your coolness.

Seriously, tattoos are lame. Resist the urge. It's going to be an ugly green smear you will regrat.

Re:the empty set (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | about 4 years ago | (#32718354)


Re:the empty set (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 4 years ago | (#32718392)

The empty set has a symbol too, you know...

Re:the empty set (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32718560)

Well, then how about pie? Everybody likes pie.

Re:the empty set (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | about 4 years ago | (#32718488)

I agree. Truly a regrattable decision.

Re:the empty set (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#32718524)

Seriously, tattoos are lame.

Tattoos aren't in and of themselves lame. People get all sort of lame tattoos, however. There's an awful lot of really beautiful stuff out there too.

It's going to be an ugly green smear you will regrat (sic).

You're largely thinking of low-quality ones done in pen ink by some guy in a back room. Those tend to be real crap jobs that over time look like shit.

Modern tattoos done by a qualified artist are an entirely different animal in terms of how they look, and how they hold up over time.

And, really, if the sum total you have to add is "tattoos are lame", why are you even bothering to comment? You obviously have nothing better to contribute to the topic.

Re:the empty set (1)

morphotomy (1655417) | about 4 years ago | (#32718570)

Yea seriously whats wrong with a plain ol geeky tee shirt?

Re:the empty set (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | about 4 years ago | (#32718574)

Agreed -- just imagine doing the proof on anything else and discovering the tattoo had an invalid predicate!

Bad idea (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718280)

Bad idea. People will think you cheated on the exams.

Classic (1)

Kranerian (1427183) | about 4 years ago | (#32718284)

E=MC^2 is the classic, possibly to the point of being cliche. Your call.

Re:Classic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718458)

Energy isn't 1 megacoulomb squared.

Re:Classic (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#32718460)

Only if you're someone who dropped out of physics before you actually got to covering relativity. For everyone else, including the last two terms in the equation is quite important.

I'm sorry but.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718292)

This is just stupid. Why don't you stick either memorizing the digits of pi (if you want to fake being a scientist) or actually go get a Ph.D and do some real research.

Quaternions and Euler Angles!!! (3, Interesting)

EMB Numbers (934125) | about 4 years ago | (#32718298)

You definitely want Quaternions and Euler Angles:
The story behind Quaternions justifies permanent ink if any math theorem ever did: []

Fermat's last theorem... (3, Interesting)

malakai (136531) | about 4 years ago | (#32718302)

Cubum autem in duos cubos, aut quadratoquadratum in duos quadratoquadratos, et generaliter nullam in infinitum ultra quadratum potestatem in duos eiusdem nominis fas est dividere cuius rei demonstrationem mirabilem sane detexi. Hanc BRACCHIUMis exiguitas non caperet.

with one small change...

why? (0, Troll)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | about 4 years ago | (#32718306)

I don't get it. Why would you want to do this? Is it to be able to cheat at physics exam?

Beta mu pi... (4, Funny)

WilyCoder (736280) | about 4 years ago | (#32718310)

In the greek alphabet:

beta mu pi integral of e^x

which gives you


Good on you! (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | about 4 years ago | (#32718320)

Math and science tattoos are a great idea! So many people have tattoos these days but they are lame. Yours will be great. I hope they catch on (but only amongst a small elite of cool people).

Darwin Awards (0, Troll)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 4 years ago | (#32718334)

If doing this prevented a person from ever reproducing would it qualify?

Cellular Automata (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | about 4 years ago | (#32718336)

I would include a glider from John Conway's Game of Life

realmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718338)

I know we are now nerd chique times but I still am never going to find equations cool. Get an anchor or at tattoo with the word mum and be a real man !

For the Pure Mathematician... (1)

nevhan (1422601) | about 4 years ago | (#32718340)

The equation relating the Riemann Zeta Function to the Bernoulli Numbers!

Re:For the Pure Mathematician... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718418)

The equation relating the Riemann Zeta Function to the Bernoulli Numbers!

Bernoulli's Triangles!

Slashdot Desperation Stories: +1, Plusvomit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718346)

Nice try Slashdot.

You obviously got the story from
Tatoos For Lamerz [] .

You may now return to listening to commercial radio, a.k.a. N.P.R. [] .

Yours In Krasnovarsk,
Kilgore Trout, Esq.

Another hipster poser (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718352)

Getting all "inked up" because it's the trendy thing to do, and it'll make you look "bad ass" despite the fact you'd piss yourself before a real fight.

Here's a suggestion: stop being the attention whore you obviously are, and actually learn what Maxwell's equations mean instead of covering your scrawny arms with something you can't understand.

Dude! (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | about 4 years ago | (#32718358)

Get one of those Fibonacci nautilus shells on the small of your back where chicks usually get butterflys!

Re:Dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718462)

Yes, by all means! Tramp stamps on guys is teh new hotness!

Re:Dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718516)

Get one of those Fibonacci nautilus shells on the small of your back where chicks usually get butterflys!

Better that that than a double helix, I suppose... NTTAWWT.

Let me see. (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 4 years ago | (#32718360)

Tattoos hurt, they endanger your health, they are expensive, and most of all they are superficial. AKA they are for looks only.
Gee... At one time only drunk sailors thought this was a good idea and now you want to show how geeky you are with them?
Might I suggest Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica the full text of course.

testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718362)

I wonder what would happen if you got tatted up with Maxwells equations and then tried to take the Physics GRE or something?

Fudd's First Law of Opposition (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 4 years ago | (#32718366)

And Teslacle's Deviant to Fudd's Law.

Re:Fudd's First Law of Opposition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718494)

It goes in, it comes out

I always wanted a tattoo of a mobius strip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718370)

The sign for infinity has sort of a symbolic meaning to me personally and so I have always thought that if I did ever get a tattoo, it would be a mobius strip in the figure 8 shape of the sign for infinity.

Tattoos = disgusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718374)

Why would you want to deface your body like that?

Tattoos are one of the most unappealing things that a person can do to their bodies (it looks especially disgusting on women's bodies).

The most elegant one: (1)

siglercm (6059) | about 4 years ago | (#32718376)

G = 8 pi T

Or is that:

G + lambda g = 8 pi T

On the other hand, don't get any tattoos. It's like that sunscreen warning thingy -- one day, you'll be sorry. Even about the equations.

Perhaps some physics... (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about 4 years ago | (#32718382)

The equations E=mc^2 and F=mA come to mind

Dirac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718384)

What about the Dirac equation?

Why not. (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 4 years ago | (#32718394)

And for me, mine would be Goldbach's conjecture.

Drake Equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718396)

I like the Drake Equation myself.
        N = R^{\ast} \times f_p \times n_e \times f_{\ell} \times f_i \times f_c \times L \!

Pi ? (1)

soifran (1843932) | about 4 years ago | (#32718404)

symbol of circle, then life, infinite... though i'd reccomand to read mangu's advice first...

Fractals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718406)

For some reason this post made me think of the Ray Bradbury story, "The Illustrated Man". Anyway...

Are you looking for specific equations or symbols (i.e. pi, e, etc.)? How about a fractal? I wouldn't recommend anything "corporate" however, like Petzold's "Windows" logo.

Laplace transform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718410)

You Might want a Laplace transform.... that's some sticky stuff there

Wow! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 years ago | (#32718420)

I've been thinking of getting a sleeve of math and science tattoos for quite a while now. With the money saved up, the only question remaining is, what equations/ideas should I get?

Do you really want to do this? It's going to be extraordinarily lame, and everyone is going to be forever looking at you like "Dude, what?".

I'm not dissing the notion of getting ink, I've got my fair share. But, really? Geek tattoos?? Equations? Chicks won't dig it.

And, as a purely practical matter, an artist is going to have a hard time adapting what you're describing, and won't know if he's making a mistake. If an artist isn't adapting it, you're going to end up designing your own tattoo, which will be mostly math -- your artist maynot know WTF it is. It could end up looking like you wrote crib notes in your arm and had them immortalized.

Go for a theme, or maybe something which depicts what you're getting in a more abstract way. But, a bunch of equations as a sleeve? I'd discourage it. It might not turn out a nice/cool as you're hoping.

Think of the poor guy with the Zune tatoo [] .

Unless you have a very concrete idea with some sketches, this could go wrong. Rule of thumb is if you describe it to your artist, and his eyes glaze over like it's a dumb idea, you might not like the end result.

Seriously? (5, Insightful)

sean_nestor (781844) | about 4 years ago | (#32718422)

In what way will having these tattoos enhance your existence? Do you really foresee finding it "cool" ten years from now? Or twenty? If you have to ask what it is you want tattooed, that should be sign enough that it isn't something you want permanently engraved into your skin.

Think of how dignified those tattoos will look when you age and your whole body looks like Reagan's neck. Do you really want to explain to your grandkids why you thought a math equation or Mighty Mouse or a kanji character that means "desk" was something that held enough meaning that it required you to permanently scar your body with it?

This applies to everyone who resolves to get a tattoo before deciding what it is of, btw.

You know Math? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718430)

Make sure you get tattoos of mathematical formula You understand and can actually use...

I'll make it simple for you: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718436)


The fallout symbol (2, Interesting)

swm (171547) | about 4 years ago | (#32718444)

I knew a guy who had the fallout symbol tattooed across his left shoulder blade,
maybe 4 inches across, in all its black and yellow glory.
I asked him why, but I don't recall his response.

He did allow that reading physics textbooks in coffee shops was a good way to pick up girls.

Re:The fallout symbol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718598)

Right. Because women love them some physics geeks.

I assume he also told you that the Tooth Fairy gives great head.

Fourier transform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718448)

Need I say more?

Some Big Theorems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718456)

For math formulas I would do Groethendieck - Riemann - Roch or Atiyah-Singer Index theorem. So many other (geometric) index theorems follow from these.

On the physics side maybe Navier-Stokes& Schroedinger Equation. If you really want to fill up space try the Lagrangian for the Standard Model.

Pi Hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718468)

You should put Pi on your right cheek. Facial cheek, that is.

My Suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718490)

Eight is equal or greater than zero!!!!

Fermat's Theorem including side note (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718508)

Get a tattoo of Fermat's Theorem and include:
I have discovered a truly marvelous proof that it is impossible to separate a cube into two cubes, or a fourth power into two fourth powers, or in general, any power higher than the second into two like powers. This margin is too narrow to contain it.

"Mathematician's Plaid" (1)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32718514)

1D cellular automata? Otherwise known as "Mathematician's Plaid". []

Speaking of "Mathematician's Plaid" does anyone in the wonderful world of slashdot know where I could get fabric with a CA pattern?

Möbius strip (1)

vw_bob (117531) | about 4 years ago | (#32718522)

Frankly, I'd consider a Möbius strip.

If you want to be different, don't (3, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 4 years ago | (#32718528)

Come on, the math is simple here. There are six billion people on the planet right now. How many of them have tattoos already? The probability of you coming up with a tattoo that someone else doesn't already have is nearly zero.

In other words if you get a tattoo, someday later you'll meet someone else who has the same one, or someone who knows someone who has it. Then you'll realize that your attempt at "individuality" was a failure. At which point hopefully you went to a clean enough shop that you didn't pick up hepatitis in the process.

Implant a ROM (1)

CPerdue (1376115) | about 4 years ago | (#32718536)

Tattoos are so ... analog. Just get all of math encoded on a chip and have that embedded. Make sure it has an RF interface, like the modern ID tags for pets, and someday you will be able to read it with your phone or whatever. You could be the first person with their own brain-coprocessor.

A circle (1)

u17 (1730558) | about 4 years ago | (#32718540)

The circle is the perfect mathematical shape. It has had the most profound impact on humans, it appears everywhere: in nature, in science and in art.

Inside it you should put the text: "Haha, despite appearances this is in fact an open disc on the surface of a 2-sphere (insert formula for area here), and all you hot ladies had best avoid me because I'm such a geeky weirdo!"

Get a fractal (5, Interesting)

ALeavitt (636946) | about 4 years ago | (#32718546)

Get a full sleeve of the Mandelbrot set drawn with (literally) painstaking detail and accuracy. That should keep you and your tattoo artist busy for a while.

Googolplex (1)

fredrickleo (711335) | about 4 years ago | (#32718556)

Have them tattoo a googolplex in full...

Newton's Laws (1)

trashbird1240 (1149197) | about 4 years ago | (#32718562)

F = ma baby!

How will you look? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 4 years ago | (#32718580)

If you think it will make you look badass, or even evil, you can try putting there the Hanlon's Razor. That will give the others the opportunity to think.

Price equation as a tramp stamp (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | about 4 years ago | (#32718582)

Since I may be the only trashy biologist in attendance, may I suggest getting price's equation:

  Easiest to get it as a tramp stamp. However, in the likely event your are a dude, you get double trash points for tattooing it on the little Mr. Price.

Don't (2, Interesting)

tool462 (677306) | about 4 years ago | (#32718590)

Forget the tattoo. Just stick with t-shirts from ThinkGeek or whatever like the rest of us do.
Someday when the anti-intellectual revolution comes and Sarah Palin is looking for some fresh necks for her guillotine (aka "Freedom Slicer"), your elitist tattoo will get you killed.

Am I joking? Sometimes I don't even know.

science vs math (1)

verlyn13 (1701040) | about 4 years ago | (#32718594)

A grounded person would get a science tat like Ohm's law. Personally, I don't care about the real world. Get the fundemental theorem of finitely generated abelian groups. Or if you like Rs more than Zs, the analogous result for decomposition of R-modules.
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