Great gifts for a Cal scientist

While it’s not snowing here in Berkeley, the holiday season has officially begun. Granted there are still exams to take, end of term grading to do, and gels to run, but here at BSR we feel it is high time to ring in the start of the season, even if that just means secretly munching on some gelt at your desk. To get you in the mood, take a peek at today’s list of gifts for the scientist in your life. And don’t worry, we won’t tell if you feel like snagging one for yourself.

 Subatomic Particle Plushies: You may have heard of giant microbes or stuffed organs, but do you know about Particle Zoo? My lab mate and I discovered these the other day and got a serious case of particle envy. Let me break it down: We’re talking about hand-sewn plushies of quarks, neutrinos, photons, and more with little eyes and smiley mouths, stuffed in accordance to particle weight. They may be a little pricey but even Higgs is on board with hanging out with these toys! They’re at


Berkelium T-shirt: Celebrate being at Berkeley with an Element 97 t-shirt.  You can snag one of these in the blink of an eye at one of the gear shops on the south-side or on University for a quick gift that’s bound to make any scientist smile.

Molecular Mixology Kit: Whatever your opinion is on molecular gastronomy may be, I can guarantee you that this cocktail kit is well worth trying out and a fantastic gift for anyone scientifically inclined. I got this as a good-bye present from my old lab and it is definitely a big upgrade from making skittles vodka or drunk gummy bears. I will say that a little bit of a learning curve is involved and you need to take the instructions seriously but once you get the hang of things, it’s fantastic. For an alcohol-free alternative, I also would highly recommend the sister “Cuisine E-Revolution” kit. You can find the kit at


Anything from Nervous System: This super cool design team is lead by two MIT grads who design beautiful housewares and jewelry based on self-written programs that seek to mimic naturally occurring biological patterns and events. Many of the designs are prepared on 3D printers and you can make your own items such as these rings. Be careful linking through to this one, because you might end up spending too much time browsing (and spending money) on their site. They’re at


“Science Ink”: This installation from Carl Zimmer may already be year-old but if this book isn’t already on your radar it should be this holiday season. The tattoos are quite an eyeful and short stories that accompany each are inspirational towards the dedication of scientists among us. It’s a beautiful hardcover so I would definitely not skimp with the e-book. You can pick it up on Amazon.


 Oobleck: Rounding out the list is a no-brainer you can whip up in five minutes with a little bit of corn starch, food coloring, and pack away into a tupperware for your next White Elephant gift exchange. Doing science at Berkeley means we should try to act like mature adults, but who doesn’t like playing with a non-Newtonian fluid from time to time? Scientific American explains how to make it here.


Give Back: Take a few moments to contribute to the historic Berkeley Holiday Fund or link up with the Cal Public Service Center to help serve meals at the Berkeley Food & Housing Project. You can also participate in the annual Toys for Tots program and drop off new toys at any of the City of Berkeley Fire Stations and the Tsukamoto Public Safety Building.

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