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Retired UW Astrobiology Professor Invents The First Working Sundial Tattoo

This story originally aired on April 15, 2017.

Retired University of Washington astrobiology professor Woody Sullivan is obsessed with the concept of time. It's apparent the instant you walk into what he call’s his “man lodge," the little study behind his North Seattle home.

It’s full of shelves of books with titles like “Empires of Time,” and “Time, The Familiar Stranger.” Plus, there are shelves of small, ornate sundials, some that can fit into the palm of your hand.

Finally, across his ceiling is Woody’s real masterpiece: a reflection sundial. A tiny mirror on the windowsill reflects a spot of light onto the ceiling, where an intricate and colorful sundial is painted to calculate the time.

Woody fell in love with sundials over 25 years ago when he was a professor at the University of Washington. In fact, he can barely remember a time before he loved them. For Woody, they are a testament to the intersection of art, science, and history. 

Sound Effect host Jennifer Wing talked with Woody about his passion for sundials and how they lead to the invention of the first working sundial tattoo.  

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.