A Vector holiday gift guide: Gifts for the sci-curious to the science obsessed

by Lindsey Hoshaw on December 9, 2011

Finding a gift for the average Joe is challenging enough, but what about your hard-to-please nerdy science friends? Luckily, Vector is here to help. We’ve scoured the Internet and found gifts for kids and adults that we think will pass the test.

We had three criteria when selecting gifts for Vector’s first-ever holiday gift guide: 1) creativity, 2) originality, and 3) quality. Each gift also had to be tied to science in some way. So without further ado, here are the six gifts that are at the top of our list this holiday season:

1) Science Ink by Carl Zimmer ($24.95)

Award-winning science writer Carl Zimmer has compiled a book of science tattoos from zealous science-aficionados across the globe. Originally featured on his blog The Loom, the hundreds of tattoos in this book range from the bizarre (there’s a microscopic animal called a tardigrade that looks like a root vegetable) to the eulogistic (a list of NASA astronauts who have died during their missions). Zimmer’s book seems to be on everyone’s list—it’s sold out on Amazon—so it’s best to check your local bookstore for copies. If you’re in Boston, Zimmer will sign your book in person after his lecture at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, December 13 at 6pm. Best of all, the lecture is free and open to the public.

2) Heart Plush Toy by iHeartGuts ($20)

Nothing says “love” like giving your child a huggable version of the human heart. Designer Wendy Bryan calls herself an anatomically obsessed illustrator who loves internal organs. Her plush toys come in different sizes and include the pancreas, ovaries, kidney, mammary glands, appendix and thyroid, among others. You can buy them as a set—the Plush Internal Organs collection includes the intestine, stomach, spleen and bladder ($67.00)—or individually ($16.00-$24.00). Each organ comes with a description of its function and the names alone are enough to make you smile; we like the “A Seminal Work! Prostate Plush.” Bryan says these festive organs are what you might find inside a dissected Hello Kitty. We couldn’t agree more. [Ed. note: If your tastes run more to the microscopic, you should check out Giant Microbes; cholera never looked so cuddly!]

3) Estrogen Earrings by Made with Molecules ($220)

If you love the ornate structure of molecules, these earrings are for you. The estrogen earrings are made of 14k gold, are 1” long and come in a recycled gift box. Other Made with Molecules jewelry includes an endorphin necklace, serotonin cufflinks and dopamine Christmas ornaments. The silver and gold designs are created by Raven Hanna, who has a PhD in molecular biophysics from Yale University. Hanna started her jewelry line to “combine art and science in celebration of life in our amazing universe.” If you want your gifts to arrive before Christmas, the ordering deadline is December 16.

4) Coffee Joulies by Two Daves ($50 for a set of 5)

Most scientists know what it’s like to spend late nights in the lab testing their newest invention while downing multiple cups of coffee. But you don’t have to be Einstein to appreciate the brilliance of these metal beans that will cool your coffee when it’s too hot and release heat as it starts to get cold. The Joulies got their start when Dave Petrillo and Dave Jackson pitched their idea to create bean-shaped coffee warmers on Kickstarter (a platform for artists and designers to raise money for creative projects). They had no idea the concept would be so popular, but one month and $306,944 later, they’d raised enough money to bring their design to market. The Daves won’t reveal what’s inside the Joulies but say, “the stainless steel beans contain a proprietary substance called a ‘Phase Change Material’ that melts at 140°F and is 100% edible food-grade magic.” The beans displace about 15 percent of the volume of your cup (the same taken up by cream) and are dishwasher safe.

5) Chain Reaction Kidney bag by threeASFOUR($339.60)

Whoever said you only need one kidney didn’t have these bags in mind. These matching gold kidneys (also available in black) are the brainchild of three designers, Gabi Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil. The team’s avant garde designs have been purchased and displayed by several museums including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; their circle bag was even featured in Sex & the City. The leather bags can be worn together or unconnected around your neck or shoulder. The metal straps are adjustable and each kidney is about the size of a football. For the science fashionista in your life, these kidney bags won’t disappoint.

6) Apart Flip Clock by Todd McLellan ($50 for a 14″ x 11″ print)

Artist Todd McLellan takes apart everyday objects and arranges them in visually stunning ways for his collection of framed art available on 20X200. You can find typewriters, rotary telephones and hand-powered lawn mowers broken into hundreds of pieces and meticulously set against grey backgrounds for his limited edition prints. The Apart Flip Clock is part of McLellan’s Dissassembly series, which includes other objects McLellan found on the street curbs that were headed for disposal. Of the objects he photographs, McLellan says he “envisioned all the enjoyment these pieces had given many people for many years, all to be replaced by new technology that will itself be rapidly replaced with half the use.”

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