Sometimes it's just enough to know that there's a crystal sculpture based on extradimensional physics, or glow-in-the-dark uranium marbles, or nuclear-powered toys. That's the concept behind the Science Geek Gift Guide, which we've been offering every holiday season for the past decade.
When we're talking about gifts for science geeks, we're not talking about the techiest camera or the latest smartphone. You'll find that kind of gadgetry in NBC News' Technology Holiday Guide. We're talking about gewgaws that make you smarter, or at least tickle your scientific fancy.
For example, how about some board games with frickin' laser beams? There's the Laser Maze solitaire game from ThinkGeek ($29.99), or the Egyptian-themed Khet game from Vat19 ($34.99) and other sources. Feeling artsy? A DNA pendant ($29) or a set of "Science Gawds" prayer candles ($27.22) from Etsy might fill the bill.
If you're in more of an educational mood, you can get your young scientist a solar-powered robot kit from Edmund Scientifics ($26.95), or a newfangled chemistry kit. (There's even a Kickstarter project for an heirloom chemistry set modeled after the classic A.C. Gilbert version, but that won't be delivered by Christmas.)
We need your help to identify the good stuff. What are this year's coolest scientific gift items? The craziest? Are there some gifts from past years that keep on giving? Pass along your suggestions, either as a blog comment or as a posting to the NBC News Science Facebook page. We'll pull together five of the top suggestions and put them to a vote next week.
The top vote-getter as of noon ET Dec. 9 will be crowned the Science Geek Gift of the Year, and the geek who made the winning suggestion will be eligible to receive a goodie bag including a 2014 Year in Space Calendar (which won the geek-gift prize last year), a signed copy of "The Case for Pluto" (by yours truly) and a slightly used Black Hole Starter Kit.
May the best geek win!
Previous Science Geek Gift Guides:
- Toy traditions go back to the future (2003)
- Your toys will be assimilated (2004)
- Gifts for space geeks (2004)
- Find your star (2005)
- The top gift for science geeks (2006)
- Season's readings for kids ... and for grown-ups (2007)
- The top geek gift of 2008
- Gifts from the sixth dimension (2009)
- Make your own geeky goodness (2010)
- Get into geeky gifts that glow (2011)
- Calendars and other gifts for geeks (2012)
More geeky gifts:
- Edmund Scientific: The classic science store
- Educational Innovations
- Science gifts from Etsy
- GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide 2013
- Home Science Tools gift guide
- Imagination Soup math and science gifts
- Quirky's gifts for gadget geeks
- Robot Snob suggestions for robotics fans
- Sheldon Shirts: Big Bang Theory gifts
- ThinkGeek: Stuff for smart masses
- xkcd store
- Zazzle gifts for geeks ... and "Big Bang" fans
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.