December 2011

Gifts for geeks



Unless we’re asked to buy a specific gift for a loved one, there is a good chance that the gift we give will unconsciously reflect our own wants. I could never understand why my wife didn’t appreciate the ergonomic snow shovel ( I bought her, until I defended the gift so much that I realized I was the one who wanted it.

Geeky_Gifts_yellow_tThe same can be said for attempting to convert children to adopt our own interests. We imprint upon them what we endorse. Scientists are no exception. Maybe because our work undergoes constant scrutiny, is battered by skepticism, and is viewed with suspicion by large portions of the public, we seek validation in any form anywhere. Why else would someone give a baby a onesie advertising the periodic table abbreviations of barium, boron and yttrium? (

Geeky_Gifts_Cufflinks Geeky_Gifts_science__shirt But rare is the person who enjoys their work so much that their vocation comes unattached to an avocation. If this is you, you don’t mind wearing your interests on your sleeve or chest (). But better to leave the cufflinks ( alone: you want only to show your science pride, not alienate people at parties — unless, of course, you’re a science geek!

This holiday season, there are many cool gifts for geeks, and if you count yourself and friends among them, take notes on the following gift ideas!

Geeky_Gifts_omnomnogom_shirtOne thing I’ll be picking up for my kid is the Omnomnomagon T-shirt (, which might not qualify accurately as geeky, but it’s close enough for rock ‘n’ roll. If you’re not clued into “Omnomnom,” check out this Youtube video (, which was all the rage a year ago. It’s OK, I’ll wait for you to view it and then you can continue reading….

OK, done? “Omnomnom” has serious legs, like “Who shot JR?” or “Where’s the beef?” from long ago. Ergo, your kids will love the Omnomnomagon shirt and will appreciate your hipness, but of course they’ll never tell you.

 Geeky_Gifts_In_Da_HoodGeeky_Gifts_bacteria_shirtT-shirts are the original geek wear that elicit groans or nods. “Microbiologists in da hood” ( and the “Bacteria” T-shirts ( celebrate the lonely work of the E. coli jockey. The “10 Types of people” T-shirt promotes computer science, or rather, computer language literacy ( Geeky_Gifts_grad_schoolGeeky_Gifts_Computer_sci_TWhereas “Grad school” (, admittedly, is a rip-off of John Belsuhi’s “College” T-shirt in Animal House, but it’s a fun reminder of working 70-hour weeks and earning sub-minimum wage. 

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