Science on Tap: Rethinking Ink: Lasers, Tattoo Removal, and Second Chances

December 11, 2017
6:00 p.m.
National Mechanics
22 South Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States

Kindle your enthusiasm for science, and meet new people at Science on Tap, a monthly science café.

The Sciences History Institute presents “Rethinking Ink: Lasers, Tattoo Removal, and Second Chances.”

There was a time when tattoos were taboo, and you thought long and hard before getting one. Today 20 percent of American adults are inked. Tattoos just don’t carry the stigma they once did—unless it’s a particular kind of tattoo, in a particular place on the body. Fortunately, as our penchant for getting tattoos has grown, so has our ability to get rid of them. In the 1960s, researchers started experimenting with lasers to remove tattoos, and since then the technology has dramatically improved. Now we can erase our past, whether it’s a sailor’s drunken decision from overseas or a gang insignia that prevents its owner from getting a job—and could even get him killed. Sociologist and CHF Beckman Legacy Project research fellow Joseph Klett traces the modern history of tattoo removal through the stories of his father—a retired sailor—and ex-gang members in California.


About the Presenter

Joseph Klett is a sociologist and research fellow with the Beckman Legacy Project at CHF. He studies how technology is used to shape perception in everyday life, looking for answers to such questions as what perspective does technology provide for users, and how does this perspective reproduce the values of its creators? He is currently writing a book called Organizing Sound about audio engineers and music teachers as they try to influence the way people listen to and make sound in the world.