Gifts For The Nerd In Your Life

Courtesy Flickr/Kevin Dooley

Courtesy Flickr/Kevin Dooley

It’s that terrible time of year when you agonize over what to buy the people you love. Well, hark! Here lies a not at all comprehensive list of things your local nerd would quite enjoy.

1. The Heirloom Chemistry Set

chemistry

This is a 2-for-1 as not only are you supporting a crowd funding effort (which just might be the future of science), but you’re getting a honest-to-goodness, old-timey, probably dangerous, endlessly entertaining batch of chemicals. Trade the holidays refrains of “You’ll shoot your eye out,” for “You’ll burn your eyebrows off.”

(Of course, beware. According to the literature, 75% of successfully crowdfunded projects deliver their products later than expected.)

2. Kano

kano

I was really excited about buying a raspberry pi or an arduino until I saw this delightful alternative pop up on Kickstarter. Billed as “A computer anyone can make,” it’s aimed at teaching programming to kids. Or not kids.

3. iPad Air + Star Walk App

ipad

What are iPads good for?
a) Making your friends feel guilty they didn’t buy you as nice a gift.
b) Teaching kids about science.

Buy one and you can do both.

A new study by Smithsonian researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows that students grasp the unimaginable emptiness of space more effectively when they use iPads to explore 3-D simulations of the universe, compared to traditional classroom instruction.

And protip: If you must get a model with 4G LTE service, buy it with T-mobile to get 200 mb/month of free data.

4. Orphan Black Season 1

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If you haven’t been following the real life events of gene patenting and the human genome project, here’s a way to catch up in style. Full of clones who don’t know they’re clones, espionage, and murder, it’s a slick-looking BBC show that takes its science seriously.

As a recap on the gene patenting, according to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June of this year:

“A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but cDNA is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.”

You can read more about the whole mess here.

And once you finish marathoning season 1, you’ll understand why the masses were so upset that Tatiana Maslany was snubbed at the Emmys.

5. A nice bottle of alcohol

Courtesy Flickr/ Speculum Mundi

Courtesy Flickr/ Speculum Mundi

The ties are shaky, but according to four studies collected by The New Republic, drinking alcohol tends to correlate with measures like IQ, college graduation, and speaking ability.

6. 23 & Me

two_kits

… because it’s basically a collector’s item now.


Runner-up items:

Sugru, a really strange adhesive.

Day One subscription, to support new short fiction on Amazon.

Movie ticket vouchers, hey, Veronica Mars is coming out soon.

Build-it-yourself LEGO ornaments, Tardis optional.

A degree in robotics, from Northwestern University.

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