This tattoo belongs to Vincent Pigno, a self-described “fledgling mathematician.” He wears it great, but we know a certain sleepy microbe hunter (our next scientist, Ian Lipkin, who could totally pull this off).
Among the things one can see with a microscope is a bacteria-infecting virus, called a bacteriophage, on Pigno’s left shoulder. Of course, a microscope lit by reflected sunlight wouldn’t quite be up to that particular challenge. Bacteriophages were first seen in the 1940s, thanks to the invention of more powerful scanning electron microscopes. Before then, many scientists doubted that bacteriophages even existed. Today, we know them to be the most common form of life on Earth, numbering an estimated ten to the thirty first power all told – that is, ten thousand billion billion billion.
Check out more tattoos in “Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed” by Carl Zimmer.