inadvertent secret messages in skin

August 1, 2007 at 4:27 pm | | cool results, everyday science, nerd

Several days ago, I wrote a note on my hand to remind me to do something (fix the house N2 system, although you wouldn’t be able to tell from my scribbles). I wrote the note in red pen (a Sanford Uni-Ball micro1) and it disappeared in a few days.


Figure 1. My hand in room lighting.

Or so I thought! Today—days after the mark faded completely—I was looking at some dye solutions under a UV lamp and (voila!) there were the marks again.


Figure 2. My hand under UV illumination. (click to zoom)

Pretty cool. Unless you’re worried about degraded ink remaining under your skin for weeks.


1 By the way, don’t use these pens, even on paper. I’ve been using them for about a year, and just yesterday I discovered that the ink is very much not waterproof. I spilled water across my desk. Now none of my to-do lists make any sense.


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  1. Let us know how long it shows up under the UV lamp.

    Comment by Chemistry Show — August 3, 2007 #

  2. RE: erased to do list.
    I’m happy you remembered to phone your Mom on her birthday in spite of the inferior ink.
    -Love, Dad

    Comment by rob lord — August 4, 2007 #

  3. thanks, dad.

    Comment by sam — August 4, 2007 #

  4. Chemistry Show, the notes no longer show up.

    Comment by sam — August 4, 2007 #

  5. […] Because a bunch of my family was in town, I missed the first two days of ACS Boston. I thought it would be better to see some friends and family whom I rarely see than hear about science that I listen to everyday. After a few days, that decision starts to feel like a dumb move. (Just kidding, Dad.) […]

    Pingback by Everyday Scientist » acs boston update 0: sunday and monday — August 21, 2007 #

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