‘Tis the season for Geek Gifts

Hanukkah ends this Friday, which means you have to come up with (counting tonight) four more nights’ worth of terrific presents to bestow upon your favorite nerd. In case you’re running out of ideas in a hurry, here are a few on my geeky wish list.

Nerdy Shirts from Threadless.com

Threadless is my all-time favorite source for t-shirts. (Besides the local Goodwill, that is.) Artists (many of them amateurs) submit designs, then potential buyers vote on the ones they’d like to see made into T-shirts. Threadless prints a limited amount of each design, safeguarding your independent style from cramping. Combining the geek uniform with social networking, Threadless is the ultimate venue for nerdy shirts.

For the cable-wielding, wire-soldering AV nerd, or the person whose back, you suspect, looks like this anyways:

Audio-Visual Nerd shirt from Threadless.com

For the person who asks you to fix their blender because you’re majoring in physics:

Dear Scientists: This was supposed to be the future. Where is my nuclear-powered levitating house? (From Threadless.com)

For the astronomy enthusiast. Don’t forget—the first solar eclipse of 2010 is on January 15, and will be visible from central Africa, the Indian Ocean, and eastern Asia!

What really happens during a solar eclipse, from Threadless.com

Books, books, books

Brother and sister astronomy team William and Caroline Herschel, polishing a huge telescope mirror. The quirky Herschels are two of the main characters in Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder

If you love dry-humored footnotes, Romantic poetry, ribald tales and horse dung, you’ll love the Age of Wonder. Historian Richard Holmes effortlessly interleaves journal entries, letters, and original research together to tell the story of science after the age of Newton. It starts with a fascinating account of the young botanist and anthropologist Joseph Banks’s expedition to unspoiled Tahiti, and by chapter three you’re reading about fearless aeronauts and the battle to conquer the skies with hydrogen and hot air. The Age of Wonder is definitely what you’d call a tome, but the writing is so lively and the stories so engaging that you’ll have a hard time putting it down. Don’t believe me? Read an excerpt here.

Science made Stupid by Tom Weller. In case you missed this classic of the 1980s the first time around, you need to buy this book. Or at least visit this online reproduction. It will teach you things you never knew about biology, paleontology, physics, and chemistry. Most importantly of all, you will laugh a lot, and not really know why.

The Standard Model, according to Tom Weller.

Relativity explained.

Just for fun

The amazing Violet Ray cures all that ails you!

The one, the only, the Violet Ray. Not only does it deliver a very mild shock, all you need now to complete your career as a traveling quack is a gypsy wagon, some snake oil, and a bearded lady to collect the nickel admittance fee to your very own depression-era medicine show.

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