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Update for 5:35 p.m. ET Dec. 10: What suits a science geek best? A bit of space rock? How about a nice little hand-held microscope? Or jewelry that celebrates molecular structures? Maybe a science kit, or a spaced-out calendar?
The results are in from this year's Science Geek Gift contest, where you help me decide which gift is best for science geeks. Here are the five top suggestions, which were sent in earlier this month in response to my call for entries.
Molecular jewelry: Babagranny writes, "For my science-teacher daughter, I like to get molecular and chemical jewelry from American 3B Scientific." The online shop offers earrings and necklaces that pay homage to the molecular structure of a variety of chemicals, including caffeine, estrogen, serotonin and theobromine (the alkaloid that gives chocolate its tangy flavor). Price: $45 for earrings, $85 for necklace.
Portable microscope: Vlad in TN says the Carson MicroMax LED Portable Microscope is "pretty cool and very inexpensive for the cheap geek." It's a 60x-100x magnification microscope you can hold in your hand or tuck in your pocket, and features a built-in LED bulb for illumination. The gadget costs less than $15, which Vlad says is "the best reason you'll like it."
Physics kit: Amy brought a smile to my face with her suggestion. "My 10-year-old daughter confused Santa this year by asking for American Girl doll stuff, and robotics and physics kits. High on her list is the Thames & Kosmos Physics Pro kit. [$80 or less] She wouldn't mind getting something to learn to do DNA sequencing either. She keeps telling me she needs these things so she can build a brain to operate the teleporter she is working on. She frightens me."
Meteorites: "Get them something literally out fo this world. A meteorite!" Zekenix writes. "Visit Geoff Notkin's website at Aerolite.org and pick up one of the meteorite samples they have for sale." The offerings range from inch-wide bits that go for less than $100, to big rocks costing thousands of dollars. For more out-of-this-world ideas, check out DVice's list of 16 gifts that come from space.
Space calendar: Steve Cariddi suggests "The Year in Space 2013 Wall Calendar," which he publishes in cooperation with the Planetary Society. "I designed this calendar to appeal to a wide-ranging audience, including kids. I also wanted it to be big, impressive, and chock-full of geeky space goodness: cool images, astronomy facts, daily moon phases, space history, sky events, biographies, etc." The calendar costs $12.95, which includes free U.S. shipping.
Other ideas: Doug liked the Theremin Mini Kit, which I mentioned in the call for entries. "Get one of those mini-theremins so you can play the world's most annoying duets with your teakettle," he quipped. Kel66Kel suggested Buckyball toys, "tiny magnet balls that form an infinite number of shapes." We mentioned Buckyballs a couple of years ago, but since then they've been the subject of regulatory action because of the potential hazard to young children. On the Cosmic Log Facebook page, Barbara Burns Yassin says a gyroscope would make a fine geek gift. ThinkGeek happens to sell an old-fashioned $7.99 model that's tried and true.
And the winner is ... Steve Cariddi! The Year in Space 2013 Wall Calendar garnered the most votes (35 percent of the more than 2,100 votes cast) as of the contest deadline (5 p.m. ET Dec. 10). The calendar is hereby anointed the Science Geek Gift of the Year. That seems particularly fitting for 2012, since a lot of people seem to be wringing their hands over calendars lately.
As if all this glory weren't enough, Cariddi will receive a geek goodie bag that includes an "I Love Nerds" pocket protector from the Nerdery, complete with pen; the latest annotated edition of James Watson's "The Double Helix"; a pair of cardboard 3-D glasses from Microsoft Research's WorldWide Telescope project; and a signed copy of my book, "The Case for Pluto."
Thanks to all who participated in this year's Science Geek Gift exercise, and congratulations to Cariddi and his legions of supporters.
Previous Science Geek Gift Guides:
- The gift of science (2002)
- For the scientist who has everything (2002)
- 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)
More science gifts:
- Edmund Scientific: The classic science store
- Educational Innovations
- Exploratorium Science Gift Guide 2012
- GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide 2012
- Home Science Tools gift guide
- Imagination Soup math and science gifts
- Science gifts from Etsy
- 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
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.