WEB EXCLUSIVE

Top 10 Science Gifts

Gift-giving slackers, it's not too late.

By Coco Ballantyne|Tuesday, December 19, 2006

1. Giant Plush Microbes

The teddy bear's day has come and gone. After all, its namesake, Theodore Roosevelt, has been dead for some 87 years now. In recent years, stuffed animals have mutated into rotund, excessively squeezable microbes of all colors. They go by the names like Ebola ("share the love!", Flesh Eating Disease ("can put you on a diet—fast"), and The Plague ("what a history").

 

2. The Talking Globe

It's about time that globes ventured out of dusty studies and began taking a more active role in the world. SmithsonianStore.com sells a globe with a digital voice that sings national anthems and quizzes onlookers with some 10,000 questions on geography and worldly facts.



3. The Alarm Clock That Inspires No Hatred

There exists an alarm clock that doesn't beg to be thrown against walls and through windows. This alarm clock monitors your sleep cycles and waits for the best time to wake you up so you feel refreshed instead of groggy in the morning. It comes in the form of a wristwatch or a headband. Read Discover's review from last March.


4. Red Wine, But Not Just Any Red Wine

By now, most people have heard that drinking a daily glass or two of red wine improves cardiovascular health—but, be advised, not all red wines are created equal. A recent study reveals that the red wines most brimming with procyanidins, chemicals that promote healthy arteries, come from Sardinia and southwestern France. An ideal gift for the vascularly challenged.

 

5. DNA Ancestry Test

Learn what percentage of your DNA can be traced to African, European, Asian, and Native American origins—you might be surprised. Using GeneTree's DNA testing kit, swab some cells from the inside of your cheek and send it to GeneTree's lab. Unveil your ancestral origins!



6. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Save your loved ones some money and save us all from global warming, please. Compact florescent bulbs suck 2/3 less energy, provide the same amount of light, and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescents. If every American replaced just one incandescent bulb with a fluorescent one, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions the same amount as eliminating 800,000 automobiles from the roads, according to the government-backed organization Energy Star.

 

7. Periodic Table Shower Curtain

One needn't be clothed to contemplate all known elements in the universe. With the periodic table shower curtain, you can memorize the members of the noble gas family while shaving your armpits and compare atomic weights in a cloud of soapy steam.

 

8. Space Age Ant Farm

Watch pet ants build tunnels and scurry around in aqua blue gelatin environment that doubles as food and hearth. This ant farm is modeled after a NASA experiment created to observe ants in microgravity. To light up the life of your ants, you can order an accompanying blue LED illuminator from the Exploratorium Store in San Francisco.

 

9. New Yorker Science Cartoons

If you go to the New Yorker's online cartoon bank and search for "science" you'll find 410 science cartoons (when this article went to "press"), any of which you can buy as prints prints (framed or unframed), note cards, T-shirts, or sweatshirts.

 

10. See-Through Canoe-Kayak

For the big-spending, nature-loving adventurer: a transparent canoe-kayak. Constructed of the same material found in the cockpit canopies of supersonic fighter jets, the canoe seats two and offers a window into the aquatic world below. Hopefully, it won't provide too good a window into the world above for, say, a shark or a crocodile. (Despite what you see on the news, attacks are rare, but always be prepared.)

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