Nov. 30, 2012 at 9:03 PM ET
What do you give the science geek who knows everything? It's a question that always comes up at this time of year — and a question we've been answering annually for the past decade.
Along the way, we've come across our share of hot items. And I mean "hot" as in radioactive: For example, in 2006 we featured the spinthariscope, a nuclear-powered (but safe) toy that's been around for more than a century. Last year, the top-rated selection for science geeks was a handful of uranium-laced, glow-in-the-dark marbles. This year, you can pick up a Marie Curie glow-in-the-dark bobblehead doll to pay tribute to the discoverer of polonium and uranium ($17.95 from Educational Innovations).
Another hot topic for 2012 is the end of the world: If the Maya apocalypse occurs on Dec. 21, as doomsayers have suggested, that would put a real crimp in the Christmas season. Fortunately, there's no danger of that happening, as we've been telling you for the past couple of years. So why not capitalize on the controversy and get the archaeologists on your gift list a Maya wall calendar that will see them through the next baktun? It's available from the Museum Store Company for less than $40. (If they already have a Maya calendar, the online store has lots of other history-themed items to choose from.)
Musically minded geeks might want to get their hands on the Theremin Mini Kit, sold by ThinkGeek for $39.99. All you need is a screwdriver and batteries, plus the skill and patience to learn how to play the alien-sounding instrument. With practice, you can produce beautiful music like the guy in this video. Without practice, you'll sound more like this guy.
In previous gift guides, we've touted plush microbes and plush subatomic particles. This year, let's add some internal organs to the panoply of plush. Nothing says "I Love You" like a heart for the holidays. Or if you've already given your heart to someone, how about a kidney? ($18 for each from Uncommon Goods.)
If you're in the mood for a little chemistry, you can check out ThinkGeek's DIY Juice to Alcohol Kit ($12.99, for over-21 sales only), or the ScienceWiz DNA Experiment Kit ($17.76 from Amazon). And if the young geek on your gift list is into robotics, the OWI-535 Robotic Arm or 6 in 1 Educational Solar Kit might fill the bill ($44.29 and $11.97, respectively, from RobotShop).
I'm hoping these suggestions will get you in a science-geek frame of mind, because now I need your help: What science-themed gifts are on your wish list? What do you think would make a good gift for a science geek? Leave your suggestions as comments below, and you may win a science-geek goodie bag — stuffed with swag including an "I Love Nerds" pocket protector from the Nerdery, the latest annotated edition of "The Double Helix" and your very own pair of cardboard 3-D glasses.
I'll pick out10 five gift suggestions as finalists and offer them up for an unscientific vote in a follow-up Cosmic Log posting. The suggestion with the most votes as of noon 5 p.m. ET Dec. 10 will get the goodie bag. May the best geek win!
Update for 8 p.m. ET Dec. 7: I've tweaked the rules just a bit to provide a little more time for slightly fewer finalists.
Previous Science Geek Gift Guides:
More science gifts:
You don't need to buy me a present. All I ask is that you 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. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.