The Best Gifts for Science Geeks
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Gifts for science lovers
Are you looking for a gift for a special someone who really digs science? How about a pendant made from a Jurassic fossil, a scarf printed with colorful portraits of cells, or a giant plush ebola microbe?
Live Science has put together a geeky gift guide for the science-loving people in your life.
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DIY Lego drones
Build! Fly! Crash! Rebuild!
Learn about programming by building your own flying drone from Lego bricks, and then send it into the air using a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device or tablet and a companion app. The kit contains everything you'll need to build and launch a range of quadcopter designs, which can be controlled via a platform that is open source and customizable. Kits are recommended for ages 14 and up. Prices start at $149.00 for the Flybrix Quad Starter Kit, and kits are available from Flybrix.
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Microbes are all around us — some bacteria, fungi and viruses can represent threats to our health, while others live on and inside our bodies and play a vital role in regulating our normal bodily functions. Why not celebrate these amazing microbes with an adorable plushie that magnifies them a million times, and is also extremely huggable? Though soft and fuzzy, the plushies have the shape and general structure of the microbes that they represent — including bird flu, leprosy, ebola and cholera — and each comes with a printed card that includes fun and educational facts.
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Geeky knitting books
The delightfully nerdy knitting patterns in these books will make geeky knitters reach for their needles. "Unobtainables: Fake Elements, Real Knits" (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) presents 25 patterns celebrating fictional chemical elements, such as kryptonite, unobtanium, and carbonite, to name a few. "Knits of Tomorrow: Toys and Accessories for your Retro-Future Needs" (Interweave) compiles fun projects that reference the technology of the future as imagined by science fiction visionaries of the past. And "Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After" (Cooperative Press) offers an array of projects inspired by post-apocalyptic worlds imagined in books, movies and television.
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PancakeBot3D printers typically use inedible plastics, but the PancakeBot turns a cartridge of batter into delicious pancakes, cooked on its nonstick griddle. Choose from hundreds of ready-made shapes, or customize your own pancakes using the free PancakePainter software. An easy-to-use interface lets you create your perfect pancake design, upload it from an SD card, and then watch it take shape. The PancakeBot disassembles for cleaning and storage and costs $299.00.
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Apollo cockpit necktie
Space aficionados will be over the moon for these satin microfiber ties that are hand printed with schematic images of the Apollo lunar module control panel, taken from declassified NASA documents in the Apollo Operations Handbook Block II Spacecraft, circa 1969. Ties come in several sizes — standard, narrow, skinny and XL — and in a range of colors. They are available from Cyberoptix and cost $36.00.
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Waterproof endoscopic camera
Want to take a closer look at something underwater or around a tight corner? Just whip out this handy, waterproof, 2 megapixel camera attached to a flexible 10-foot (3-meter) cable, and connect to an app on your phone or tablet via WiFi for live viewing. Adjustable LED lights improve visibility in dim conditions, and resolution is up to 1280 x 720.
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Ammonite fossil necklace
Paleontology buffs will really dig these fossil ammonite pendants. Ammonites were chambered marine molluscs that first appeared during the Devonian period (around 416 to 358 million years ago), and disappeared from the fossil record around 65 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, likely wiped out by the same extinction event that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs. These ammonite fossil pendants are available from the Etsy shop heysomeday in a range of sizes and with varying amounts of visible detail in their chambers, priced at $21.00 and up.
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TARDIS Projection Alarm ClockAlarm clocks don't always have to be a nuisance when they ring. If you have a diehard "Doctor Who" fan in your life, this TARDIS Projection Alarm Clock may be the perfect gift. In addition to all the standard clock functions, this TARDIS timepiece can project the time and the "Doctor Who" logo onto the ceiling. And when the alarm goes off, it sets off flashing lights and TARDIS sounds. The clock, which retails for $20.97 on Amazon, measures about 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) tall and runs on three AAA batteries (not included).
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"Science Comics" books
This charming book series introduces a number of fascinating science topics — such as coral reefs, the history of flight, and the genetics and behavior of dogs — in a highly readable and entertaining comics format, penned by a roster of talented artists and writers. The books retail for $12.99 and can be purchased at a number of outlets. Upcoming titles that are scheduled for release in 2018, such as “Robots and Drones,” “Sharks,” and “Rockets,” are available for pre-order on the publisher’s website.
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A neutron walks into a bar and asks the bartender, "How much for a beer?" The bartender smiles and says, "For you, no charge."
Anyone who appreciates chemistry humor will surely have a positive reaction to these chemistry socks, decorated with images of bubbling beakers, atoms and molecules. The socks are 65 percent cotton, 15 percent nylon, 15 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and fit women's shoe sizes 5 to 10.
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"Portrait in Cells" scarf
Cell biology never looked so good. This luxurious 100% silk charmeuse scarf is printed with patterned squares displaying colorful illustrations of cells in the human body — blood, brain, muscle, retina, bone, egg, sperm, lung and liver — against a black background. It measures 70 inches (178 centimeters) by 18 inches (46 cm) and sells for $60.00 in the Etsy shop Artologica.
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Termitat termite habitat display
The complex societies of termites have fascinated entomologists for centuries, and now you can observe their community interactions up close in an acrylic-enclosed live termite colony featuring Zootermopsis angusticollis — Pacific dampwood termites — which are among the largest termites in North America. Inside the circular, mounted desktop display called a "Termitat" (a name that combines "termite" and "habitat"). a disc of wood serves as home and food for the termites, and will last for two to three years, according to the manufacturer's website. Two models are available, along with optional accessories, and prices start at $125.00.
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"Force Field Cloak" for kids
Blankets with colorful, glowing patterns will help kids who are afraid of the dark, providing them with a personal "force field." These machine-washable fleece blankets charge under a bright light after 10 to 15 minutes of exposure, and then display one of five bright patterns for 8 to 10 hours, providing kids with a comforting light to help them overcome nighttime fears. The "Force Field Cloaks" measure 40 inches (102 centimeters) wide by 54 inches (137 cm) long and are available from The Glow Company for $36.00, with an estimated delivery date of January 2018, or for $46.00, with delivery in December 2017.
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Handmade wooden nutcrackers date to 16th century Germany, and are typically carved in the shape of a standing soldier or king, such as the toy immortalized in the ballet "The Nutcracker," by composer Piotr Tchaikovsky. But NASA adds a modern twist to the traditional carving with an astronaut design, which features a spacesuit-clad figure — still bearing the classic moustache — holding an American flag and a lunar module, and standing on a moon-like base. The nutcracker is available from Shop NASA, and costs $29.95.
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Unseen marvels from Earth's distant past are locked deep in the fossil record, and every layer has a story to tell. And now you can have several of those layers at your fingertips, with an ingeniously designed mechanical keychain that swings open in three pieces to reveal fossils representing five eras in geologic history: the late Cretaceous, the Permian, the Carboniferous, the Cambrian, and the Ediacaran. The pendant is available from the Etsy shop tcustom and costs $28.75.
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Gibeon meteorite guitar pick
Here's a geeky science gift that really rocks — a guitar pick carved from an iron meteorite from Namibia, Africa, near the village of Gibeon. It was identified as a meteorite by a British scientist in 1836, and has been estimated to be more than 4 billion years old. A distinctive pattern of striated lines on the pick represent a type of crystallization called Widmanstätten pattern, and is only seen in iron meteorites. The pick is available from Ferbers Jewelry and costs $77.00.
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It's a miracle! Non-avian dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years, but Menorahsaurus rex is ready and willing to display your Chanukah candles on his back. This whimsical dinosaur menorah is made by hand from plastic toys and brass candle cups, measures about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and 8 inches (20 cm) high, and can hold standard-sized Chanukah candles. Menorahsaurus rex is available from Etsy shop The Vanilla Studio and costs $85.00.
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If you feel a magnetic attraction for Jupiter you may find yourself irresistibly drawn to this stretchy, sleeveless dress that is digitally printed with a NASA image of Jupiter's atmosphere (which is 90 percent hydrogen and 10 percent helium). The dress measures approximately 40 inches (101 centimeters) long and is "comfortable and smooth to the touch," according to the product website. Dresses are made to order by Shenova Fashion and cost $179.00, with an estimated production time of 2 to 3 weeks.
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Have a heart…or a spleen, or a liver, or maybe an appendix. Anatomically accurate plush versions of all these internal organs — and many more — are available from I Heart Guts for $20.00. These organs are a great way to learn about anatomy, and are also extremely huggable.
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Needle felted peacock spider
Peacock spiders are the rock stars of the arachnid world — the males are brilliantly colored and patterned, and they perform complex and enthusiastic courtship dances to attract their mates. Their colorful charm is beautifully captured in handmade needle felted spiders that retain all the correct anatomical details and colors of individual species, scaled up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) in length. Specific species are available upon request from the Etsy shop La Tase & La Fa, and they cost $54.75.
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Women in Science book
Celebrate the women who were — and are — groundbreakers, innovators and courageous leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), with this gorgeously illustrated book. "Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World" offers portraits of the women who overcame what often appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, in the pursuit of knowledge, to answer questions about the world around them, and to share what they learned with others. Their discoveries and achievements helped shape the sciences in the ancient and modern world, and point the way forward for generations to come.
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Ragweed pollen earings
Celebrate your seasonal allergies — or plant reproduction in general — by donning a pair of handmade earrings shaped like spiky grains of ragweed pollen. The earrings are made to order, and are available in silver, brass or bronze. They measure 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) in diameter and are available from the Etsy shop Ontogenie for $57.18 (bronze and brass) and $115.59 (sterling silver).
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Katherine Johnson scarf
Katherine Johnson was an African American mathematician whose work at NASA played an instrumental role in sending the first American astronauts into space. Her photo decorates this large, rectangular scarf, which is one of a series celebrating inspirational women in aeronautics, aviation and programming. The scarf is 98 percent Modal and 2 percent cashmere, and is available from Slow Factory for $140.00.
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Dinosaur skeletons march across these comfy socks, which will keep fossil-lovers' feet warm whether they're searching for raptor bones in the Mongolian desert, mapping theropod trackways in Arkansas, or strolling through the dinosaur halls in their local natural history museum. The socks are a blend of cotton, nylon, polyester and spandex, and fit a men's shoe size 7 to12. They cost $10.99 and are available from Absolute Socks.
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Massive, wooden, multi-legged beast-like kinetic sculptures built by Dutch artist Theo Jensen appear to “walk” across sandy landscapes when propelled by the wind. And now, you can build a miniature version of a “Strandbeest” (“beach animal”), measuring 8 inches (20 centimeters) long, and about 7 inches (18 cm) high.
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"This Book is a Planetarium"
It's so much more than just a book. In "This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions," author Kelli Anderson uses stunning examples of pop-up construction to demonstrate a working planetarium that projects constellations, a stringed musical instrument, a message decoder, and more.
Buy "This Book is a Planetarium" on Amazon for $27.19: https://www.amazon.com/This-Book-Planetarium-Extraordinary-Contraptions/dp/1452136211
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"United Snakes of America" print
Perfect for biologists or casual snake-lovers, this engaging and informative poster includes illustrations of every single snake species found in the United States and Canada, identified by their common names. It was designed by artist and writer Rosemary Mosco, who is known for her humorous science comics series, “Bird and Moon.” The print is available from the Bird and Moon store on the Topatoco website and comes in two sizes: 18 inches by 24 inches (46 centimeters by 61 cm) for $18.00 and 36 inches by 48 inches (91 cm by 122 cm) for $50.00.
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Protist wine charms
How charming are these protist wine charms? Protists — microscopic single-celled organisms — have bodies that come in a range of shapes, and these colorful plastic versions will help keep your scientist friends keep track of their wine glasses at your next party. There are six protists to a set, and they include green algae, diatom, coccolithophore, and three types of radiolarians. The charms are 3D printed from plastic (there are nine colors to choose from), and are made to order, taking 2 to 3 weeks for printing and shipping. They are available from the Etsy shop Ontogenie and cost $59.66.
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Discuss the enigma of the brain as you sip hot tea (or something stronger) while using these brain specimen coasters. The set of 10 shows different slices of the brain. On a slightly less romantic note, it's also a great conversation starter for what to do with your brain once you die — check out the NIH Neurobank to learn more about your options.
The coasters can be purchased at ThinkGeek, and cost $19.99.
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"Oh Chemistree" sweaterIf you have an Ugly Christmas Sweater party to attend this year, blow your friends away with this clever and geeky design. The "Oh Chemistree" sweater features a Christmas tree made up of elements on the periodic table, with embroidered snowflakes, beakers and a caffeine molecule arranged around it for decoration. The unisex, forest-green sweater, which retails from $12.99 on Amazon, is also available as a short-sleeve crew neck shirt, long-sleeve shirt and sweatshirt.