I had to wait with this post until everyone received and opened their gifts, but I’ve been meaning to write about it as soon as I bought them. I gave two people incredibly geeky Christmas presents this year. Last year. You know what I mean.
1. A brain cell!
“Now I have two!” my sister commented when she found out that I had given her a brain cell for Christmas. The one she already had, and the plush one she just unwrapped.
I had actually been meaning to get her a Darwin keychain or puppet, because we had been laughing about these cuddly Darwin toys earlier this year. They’re so weird. Who wants to have a doll with a beard? But they didn’t have Darwin dolls (or the mini version) in the science gift shop, and then I saw the brain cell, which was much better…
2. A cookbook with science in it!
My friend is a fan of all things healthy and natural, and their whole family (where I spent Christmas) is very aware of which foods are good for what, etc. Of course, me being a weird scientist, I often want to know how things work. Sometimes I ask out of curiosity, and sometimes because I’m skeptical. So when I found a cookbook that explains the science behind cancer, and why some foods help to prevent it, I knew I had to give her this as a gift. The first third of the book is pretty much a biology textbook, and the rest contains recipes based on ingredients you can learn the chemistry of elsewhere in the book.
Woo, chemical structure in a cookbook!
I was most excited about the page with the Western Blot on it:
“This is the kind of stuff I did in the lab! Except with pigmentation things, not with food.”
“I know! I saw pictures like this at your thesis defence!”
So the cookbook can also explain what those weird black blobs on grey background actually mean =)
A blot in a cookbook! It’s a western blot, looking at the expression of a marker of inflammation. The healthiest berries suppress the levels of the marker the most. The cranberries we had at Christmas dinner were very anti-inflammatory. And in case you can’t read it, the last lane is marked “resveratrol”, so the wine did pretty well, too…
(YES, I know, there’s no loading control and the amounts of berries needed to achieve the effect are unclear. It’s for the general public – I don’t think they know what a loading control is, and in this case I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s not a groundbreaking publication; this blot is just to show people how you can compare how effective berries are at being anti-inflammatory. How do we know what we know, etc.)
What geeky Christmas presents have you given your friends and family?