How to find cool physics gifts
Science enthusiasts are something of a fixture in today’s world. After all, science gets a lot of praise for the things it achieved so far and it’s hailed all over the media as the only area of human endeavor that is sure to enlighten our futures.
Hundreds of TV shows and youtube channels address the science enthusiast’s passion, with content ranging from the most accessible to maths-filled technicalities. All of us wonder at all the cool experiments we see on screen and get excited at the prospect of some new discovery that promises to make the world a slightly better place.
The enthusiasm for science stopped being relegated exclusively to nerdy people with big glasses and bigger books. We might not all be self-declared science lovers, but we most likely do know someone who is.
The prospect of buying gifts for them doesn’t seem all that daunting at first since we’re smart enough to know they’d like something “sciency”, but once we actually get to the choosing phase we hit a wall.
There are so many options out there when it comes to science related items, it becomes a seemingly monumental task to pick just one. For our part, we limited to the realm of physics for this buying guide.
How we chose the coolest physics gifts
Take note of the person you’re buying for
While they obviously do share something in common, science lovers come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the things to account for are the age of the recipient and his actual science expertise.
A child, for example, will appreciate the most items he can interact with. Children love to play around and tinker with things, so make sure that whatever physics-related thing you’re buying for him or her actually does something.
This demographic is also the most curious, and most prone to absorbing information. Not all children might seem this way but they are actually very studious when it comes to a subject they’re actually interested in. So you really can’t go wrong with a physics popularization book for a science lover of junior high age.
Science popularization books might work well with older people also, especially if they aren’t that well acquainted with the more… technical aspects of physics. Astrophysics books, like the ones in which Richard Dawkins writes about the Universe, are bound to get even get physicists or physics student’s enthused since these expand on some truly fascinating theories.
Of course, the latter category will most appreciate nerdy gifts, like specialist reading material, but we’re not qualified to advise about that beyond “ask them what book they’ll need”.
Not only children like for their gadgets to actually do something, so one of the other things to consider when buying is what sort of functionality the item has, and what can the recipient use it for.
After going through the best science gifts reviews we’ve narrowed down three degrees of use you can get from the science related gifts available for sale.
The first one would be, of course, none at all. This is the category of fun decorative items that are either used to impress viewers by exemplifying some physics principle or just recognize the owner’s affinity for science. A levitating plant pot would make a good example for the former while a set of Albert Einstein coasters of the latter.
The second category items allow for limited interaction by the user and generally showcase just one or two physics principles through their action. They are good for kids — and really science lovers of all ages — but usually end up as neat decoration after a while. A good example of this would be a Carnot heat engine kit, which you can use it to power a tiny fan.
The third category is that of the items intended to be of actual use throughout their lifetimes. These either help you conduct various household physics experiments or offer some other type of functionality, either as a glorified toy or for actual everyday use. We’ll expand on this below.
Objects for everyday use
According to many, the end of science is to serve some practical application. Kaleidoscope glasses, ferrofluid magnetic display and levitating decorations are all fine and good, but do they actually help you in everyday tasks?
No, that’s why we believe that your friend is most likely to appreciate an object that will help him out at everyday tasks while also employing a scientific principle.
You have a lot of these to choose from, there are solar absorbing cells that can be used as lamps, Tesla coil lighter, FLIR cameras, vortex creating cocktail mixers and much more. It’s just up to you to discern what he or she will like more.
Don’t forget that this passion also has a practical element to it. A science and technology enthusiast might get a lot of satisfaction from non-glamorous tools, such as a digital multimeter or electric paint pen, that are actually aimed to be of use for a technical activity.
The coolest science gifts always should have a sort of draw to them, they should remind the user of how much science can achieve and how much more there is to discover. They should resemble a magic trick in anything but the premise.
Display items, while not particularly good for anything else, do this in spades. If your science-loving friend needs something to decorate his or her desk with, be sure to go for one of these since it’s sure to be appreciated.
Having your cigarette lit by a Tesla arch, or using solar absorbing cells on your nightstand can also prove interesting, in a slightly different way. The combination of a mundane task with a not so mundane physics principle makes for a good way to bring the possibilities of science closer to mind.
After all, every newer object out there was designed with a set of scientific principles, but we rarely stop to notice and appreciate it.