There’s a ton of nerdy artwork out there, but far too much of it is—we’ll say it—ugly. That’s a shame, because science is absolutely beautiful. These prints highlight that beauty while also allowing you to express your inner dork. You may have to explain some of these to your house guests, but think of that as an opportunity to teach them something new and exciting.
A print for whiz kids everywhere
This looks like a lovely abstract painting of various colored dots, which means when people compliment you on it innocently you get to say “thank you! It’s urinalysis results.” Yes, each row on this poster represents a specific urine test, and the colors show the various results that test can have. Relish how beautiful a gross test can be and hang this beauty on your wall ASAP.
As anyone who’s looked through a quality microscope knows, microbes are beautiful. They create their own little art, especially when stained, and this poster shows that off. Bonus points for giving this to someone who can identify them without looking at the included ID card.
A quaint family tree
Is this a precise rendering of the best information we have on the genetic relations of every species on Earth? No. Will it remind you of old-timey phylogenetic trees and make you feel like perhaps Darwin himself drew it? Yes. Plus you get to learn what the heck “vermes” were!
An outstanding orrery
The original orreries were geocentric models of the solar system, since they predated the Copernican revolution, but this one—like all modern versions—is heliocentric. You can use it to predict the phases of the moon and see the Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun. Or you can just put it on your bookshelf and let it look pretty. Either way.
Lunar terrain you can touch
This is a wooden carving made from actual topographical scans that NASA made from the moon. And you can hang it on your wall. Honestly, don’t even get this for anyone else: just buy it for yourself.
A chart of the heavens
The monotony of running endless electrophoresis gels can easily overshadow the incredible feat of engineering that allows us to separate bits of DNA by size inside a gelatinous rectangle, then see them glowing under a special light. This watercolor highlights the beauty of that process, with none of the tedium.
A new way to see your immune system
Immunoglobulin G is the most common type of antibody—the body’s first line of defense against an infection. The antibodies aren’t typically considered pretty, but when rendered in watercolor they take on kind of an abstract beauty.
Postcards from another planet
If you’ve ever wished for a vintage travel poster to hang over your couch, we’ve got a much cheaper and nerdier alternative. These prints are from a series created by NASA, and feature imaginary tourism campaigns for alien worlds. They’re actually free to print, but let’s be realistic: you’re not going to get around to framing them yourself. Pay someone else to do it for you.
Vintage rock posters
Levi Walter Yaggy has perhaps the greatest name ever, and the silliness of it belies his profession and passion: to create intricate geological charts for educational purposes. They are, however, lovely and have a nice vintage look to them—so your hipster friends will think they’re cool.
Phages to gaze upon
Scientists are still debating whether bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria by injecting their genetic material into them—are alive or not, but that won’t matter to you as you gaze at the vibrant, lively colors in this print.
A rainbow of pee
Nothing says old-timey medicine like a urine color chart. This helpful antique print shows you a simple scale (though there’s no info on what each color means, you can assume than everything past “red” is not a good sign), plus some “simple home tests for urine.” Can or should you use this as a substitute for modern medical advice? No. But it will be a whimsical, if somewhat unappetizing, presence in your living room.
Most of your visitors probably won’t know what these neurons are, which means you’ll get to enthusiastically explain a little neuroscience to every guest who enjoys the print.