With the shopping days for Christmas rapidly ticking away I wanted to share some ideas for gifts to give to the scientists (or science lovers) in your life. This list covers a range of budgets and a range of ages so hopefully there’s something for everyone in here.
1. Cleaner Science – Etsy Petri Dish Soaps (approx £4.60 GBP)
Hand made petri dish soaps “making science a little cleaner” – I was blown away when I first saw these due to how lifelike the soaps are, these really do look like cultures. All your favourite bugs are in there from S. aureus to P. aeruginosa. Now you can give your loved ones E. coli this Christmas without having to go anywhere near a badly defrosted turkey.
Another Etsy creation with a distinct microbiological twist are these neat Christmas cards from Hawk Gerber, Ink.
2. BuckyBalls (from $34.00 USD)
Who doesn’t love magnets? According to the FAQ on the website
“Buckyballs are a set of 216 Powerful Rare Earth Magnets that can do just about anything”.
Well I’m not sure about anything but these are a lot of fun, whether for a bit of stress relief at the office or for creating an exquisitely beautiful something. The original gold silver and black range has been extended to include colours (purple, orange, pink and blue) and a special Christmas collection in festive hues (red, green, silver and blue).
As a father of two I know that babies can be a source of joy, worry, sleeplessness and a whole plethora of excretions and evacuations that, were they to be concocted in a laboratory rather than the inner-workings of your own children, would certainly be in contravention of the Geneva Convention. This bright yellow babygrow with black biohazard symbol will ensure that people know to take the correct safety precautions when in proximity to your precious little WMD.
If you’d prefer your children not to look like sacks of laboratory waste ready for the incinerator then you can choose the Building Blocks babygrow with cartoon DNA strands and the text “brought to you by the letters G, C, A and T and the number 23.
4. Science Museum – Tableware (approx £20 GBP)
The Science Museum in London is home to exhibitions of the finest science and technology from throughout history and across the globe. Here you can see the development of aviation, get hands on with experiments and see a 1956 Ferranti Pegasus – the oldest working computer in the world!
There’s also the obligatory gift shop, but in addition to the postcards and novelty pencils there are tons of cool toys and gifts. Can’t make it to London? Don’t worry you can visit virtually through their online shop. Their whole inventory could be included in my run-down of the scientific gifts, but I’ve picked out the Erlenmeyer style oil and vinegar; and salt and pepper.
4.5 Science Museum – Table & Floor Lamps (£260 GBP)
If you’ve got a slightly larger budget you could surprise a very special scientist in your life with one of these table and floor lamps made from oversized glassware and “authentic Portuguese cork”. There’s no detail on the site about how large they are but at £260 each – I would hope a little bigger than your traditional 1 litre flask.
5. ScienceShirts.co.uk – Science Ties (from £11 GBP)
Novelty ties and Christmas go together like potassium and water, a lot of fun for a short amount of time. This website has a hand picked selection of neckwear from the totally outlandish to almost-wearable. They feature periodic tables, Einstein, and equations from the world of physics. My favourite of the lot is the DNA tie which is available in both a synthetic and luxurious black silk versions.
6. Venn That Tune – Andrew Viner (£8.99 GPB)
Bringing the Poetry of Maths to the Magic of Pop! This book of diagrams, graphs and pie charts pit lyrics against logic to shed fresh light on classics such as, ‘Eternal Flame’, ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’, and ‘Give Me All Your Loving’. Ingenious, inspired and utterly addictive – Venn diagrams have never looked so cool …
7. Bletchley Park – Enigma (£9.99 GBP)
The Enigma machine was a tool used by the Germans for the encryption and decryption of secret messages during World War II. Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was the secret location for British intelligence to concentrate on cracking the Enigma (and other) codes. Now with this Enigma kit (containing two Enigmas) you can build your own enigma machine to code and send messages that you’d like to keep private, just like the original machines.
8. Modernist Cuisine – (£295.00 GBP)
Molecular gastronomy, culinary physics or experimental cuisine – call it what you like. It’s more than just snail porridge, liquid nitrogen ice-cream and waterbath steak. The (six-volume, 2438 page) book “Modernist Cuisine” takes techniques from the laboratory and combines them with the art and science of food. At nearly three-hundred pounds it is not a simple stocking filler, but a real treat for the passionate gastronaut. Some of the photography, especially the scenes of food cooking in dissected pans , is just amazing!
If your budget can’t quite stretch to Modernist Cuisine then there are also some other highly rated books in the same genre available, these include
9. Threadless – Lab Partners T-Shirt ($20.00 USD)
Threadless (in case you haven’t come across the site before) is a sort of social/design/clothing store for t-shirts, hoodies and other kit. All the designs on the Threadless are submitted and selected by the community through a voting system. This shirt doesn’t have much detail on what inspired the cute critters in test-tube design, but I can tell you it was submitted by Threadless community member Hagit Hash.
10. Brain Freeze – Ice Cube Tray (£3.99 GBP)
At Christmas time there’s always one thing I forget to have ready in the house for impromptu parties and unannounced guests, ice-cubes. Now with these very anatomical brain ice-cube moulds I’ll be sure to always have a little grey matter available for our visitors (from neurobiologists to brain-chomping zombies) to chill their drinks.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of gifts for the scientist in your life – if you’ve got any comments or would like to make a suggestion for other cool presents then please leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter @photovoltage.