There are endless lists of recommended presents for all sorts of people, fathers, mothers, children, grandparents and even the family cat or dog. When it comes to chemists, we get grouped with Christmas gifts for science geeks or worse still, educational toys are sneaked into the recommendations. Some chemists teach so these toys may just be a reminder of work and possibly the last thing someone wants to think about when on holiday or pretending to be on holiday.
So what do you get? If you know the chemist in your life personally, what could work is to get them a gift that relates to who they are and something they do other than chemistry. Chemists do have interests outside of chemistry but if you’re really determined to buy a chemistry related gift here is a little help.
Drinking Mugs Made From Heavy Duty Lab Flasks
These mugs began as a side project of a UC Berkley physicist. They are made from dewar flasks. Dewar flasks are specially designed flasks that are really well insulated, more so than the thermos in your kitchen. Cold things stay cold and hot things stay hot.
The maker states: “This is, for all intents and purposes, the very best thermos you’re ever going to find. It is quite common to fill these with liquid nitrogen, let it sit on the lab bench, and when you come back three days later there will still be liquid nitrogen in it.”
These would be good for the person that never manages to finish a cup of coffee or tea within the hour. The mugs’ asking price starts at $US250, (not exactly cheap), and are available here. I don’t have one of these but every working day I come one mug of cold coffee closer to buying one of these. In the mean time, I’ll stick to using a good thermal travel mug.
Raven Hanna, a molecular biophysicist turned artist at Made With Molecules creates jewellery from molecules that are found coursing throughout the body. Each packaged piece comes with an information card on the molecule inspired piece. The range of molecules has expanded over the years, and yes there are pieces that cater for the caffeine addict or barista in your life.
Non-Chemistry Periodic Table
I did not ever think that I would ever be recommending a non-chemistry Periodic Table as a gift suggestion for a chemist but here I am about to do it. There is a database on what is available and a diverse range of topics are covered. Sports, food, drink and even swearing. Some are quite cleverly done and worthy of being printed out and laminated as a gift. A combination of chemistry and the chemist’s other love is always appreciated.
Yes indeed. Mugs made from what looks to be laboratory beakers. These are also much less expensive than the previously mentioned Science Steins.
From personal experience, they do attract the attention of the nearest OHS officer. It’s a HUGE no no to ingest anything from lab glassware. Though if it’s a specially designed mug that has not gotten anywhere near the lab bench it’s okay.
You can get these from a range of places including Thinkgeek, Advance Healthcare Shop, (who also sell Erlenmeyer flask mugs if you feel that beaker mugs are so 2005), and over at Home Science Tools, there is a 600mL beaker mug on offer.
Periodic Table Magnets
What I love about it most is that for every time I have disrupted the order and moved things around, someone else has come along to put every element back in its rightful place and provided me with more magnets.
There are some gorgeous books out there that are about chemistry. I’m not talking textbooks but ones that are narratives. They tell of the stories and histories of the chemistry and chemists. Some I like include:
- Radioactive by Lauren Redniss – Beautifully presented book on the love story between Marie and Pierre Curie as well as thoughtful discussion on radioactivity. The cover glows in the dark.
- Oxygen: the molecule that made the world by Nick Lane – Explains why if oxygen had a facebook account its relationship status with life on Earth would be “It’s complicated”. Wonderfully written and at times like a detective novel.
- Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams – The elements are taken out from the Periodic Table and examined not just for their properties but their cultural significance. It also covers the author’s personal quest to collect samples of the elements from various sources including his own urine.
- The Periodic Table by Primo Levi – Levi was a chemist and a writer. His work is exquisite. This book is a journey of his life and his profession as a chemist. It is a lesson in patience and precision, two things that chemists ought to have.
I have to stress that this is not my wishlist for presents this Christmas for the benefit of friends and family who may read this. I am as always, difficult to buy for. Good luck to those needing to join in the last minute frenzy of Christmas shopping.