9 Gift Ideas For The Aspiring Rocket Scientist In Your Life

Skip the telescope and go straight for the math-enabled bespoke clothing.

The aspiring rocket scientist in your life probably already has a model space shuttle, a telescope and an impressive cache of gadgets, so don’t worry about those. What this person really needs are some accessories and home decor to reflect his (or her) professed love. Check out our gallery for some suggestions.


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A Measuring Square For Your Neck

This is a silk scarf designed by London-based designer Sebastian Bergne, who is apparently greatly interested in unusual measuring devices. The pattern is generated by the grid that forms when centimeters, inches and degrees coincide. This is printed onto a lovely silk scarf. $238, Sebastian Bergne

Gravity Wells Poster

This cartoon from xkcd shows the depths of various gravity wells in the solar system. The depth of the well corresponds to the energy you would need to escape the planet’s gravity. As xkcd explains: The wells show “the height you would have to climb upward in constant Earth surface gravity to spend the same amount of energy as it would take to escape the given planet completely.” It was originally a comic on xkcd, but the poster version has additional diagrams showing the scale of the gravity wells of the solar system, Milky Way, and Great Attractor. $15, XKCD

And God Said [Maxwell’s Equations]

… and then there was light. For the aspiring physicist who may not want or need a $240 silk scarf, this T-shirt will also broadcast his smarts and inspire people to ask questions to which he can respond knowledgeably. $21.35, Zazzle

Meteorite Jewelry

Is your wannabe rocket scientist female? Get her a piece of space she can wear. The Space Store, an online shop with a bounty of space and NASA-themed gifts, has some lovely jewelry made from actual meteorites. This sterling silver bracelet contains seven chunks of Campo de Cielo meteorite, which were found in Chaco Gulamba, Argentina, in 1576. They fell to Earth between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, with an estimated total mass of more than 100 metric tons. $148, The Space Store

NASA-Designed Bespoke Blazer

If you can’t have a piece of actual space rock, get something designed for living in space. This bespoke blazer has a NASA-developed heat-sensing fabric, which pulls heat away from your body, stores it and returns it to you when temps drop below a certain level. Savile Row designer Darius Pocha, who founded his line this year, said the material was developed for space suits, which can get very hot when an astronaut is in the sun–and very cold when he’s not. “You may have bought a beautiful jacket that makes you look like Cary Grant but how often is actually comfortable to keep on?” Pocha says. It also has hand-rolled lapels and are custom-fit to order, so they’re not cheap. Standard, $1,502; Custom-fit $1,900; Blake Blazers

Hubble Wall Mural

Imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope is humbling and awe-inspiring, and you can get a coffee table book, mousepad or other smallish household item to celebrate it. But those are small. Instead, why not get a massive wall mural, custom-printed to whatever size you want! The folks at Hubblesite have a collection of wall mural files you can download and have printed at your favorite print shop. It won’t be cheap to print them in color and frame them, but it will look way better than the crappy mass-produced art your rocket scientist friend bought at IKEA. This image of the Carina Nebula shows a region of tremendous star birth and death 7,500 light years away from Earth. The nebula is home to Eta Carinae, one of the most massive stars in the universe. Price varies with size and printer, Hubblesite.org

Pluto Plush Toy

Does your rocket scientist pal agree with the IAU’s designation, or is he/she a rogue who believes the 9th body from the sun should be considered a planet? Either way, this plush Pluto toy will be a nice conversation piece at the office, when someone asks why your friend has a stuffed Disney character on his desk. It’s sure to launch a heated discussion. Like Pluto the planet, it is apparently not in high demand, on clearance for just 5 bucks. $5 (clearance price), Disney Store

Mandelbrot’s Autobiography

“The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick,” by Benoit Mandelbrot himself, tells the story of his youth in Poland and study of geometry while trying to avoid the Nazis during World War II, through his education at MIT, Caltech and Princeton, and his time with Harvard, Yale and IBM. Mandelbrot, the creator of fractal geometry, is quite a legendary character, and here he is in his own words, in an autobiography published two years after his death. Mandelbrot’s contributions reach far beyond mathematics, to art, engineering, physics and even medicine–our vessels and lungs are fractal, notes Amazon reviewer Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The book debuted Oct. 30, so odds are your math-y friend hasn’t read it yet. According to at least one review, it’s also a lesson in how not to treat your loved ones, so that’s something. **$17.24 hardcover; $14.99 Kindle edition, Amazon

Space Shuttle Scale Model

Yeah, I know I said your rocket scientist friend already has a space shuttle model. But probably not all of the space shuttles. This has all of America’s six orbiters, including the Enterprise test model. Each is to scale, 1/200, and they’re mounted on this nice wooden display board. Why not? You can never have too many space shuttle models. $549, The Space Store