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Presents for Profs, 2004

Give your prof a dose of cheer this holiday season with this little USB-powered Christmas tree.

Anne Minerd(aminerd@the-scientist.com)

O CHRISTMAS TREE

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Give your prof a dose of cheer this holiday season with this little USB-powered Christmas tree. Just 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) tall, the tree's LED cycles through a rainbow of festive colors – red, bright blue, light blue, green, purple, and white. Compatible with PC, Mac, Sun, and Playstation2. ($14.99; http://store.pcpowerzone.com)

CAFFEINE NECESSITIES

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Proudly display the molecular structure of your favorite pick-me-up on this glass mug. It's the gift that says, "I know my caffeine." ($7.99; http://www.thinkgeek.com). If you need more of a morning boost, consider a new delivery route: a shower with caffeinated soap. It's no joke: ShowerShock soap carries about 200 mg of caffeine per wash, absorbed through the skin. ($24.95 for set of three; http://shopping.rednova.com) Or, there's the caffeinated candy sampler. Perfect for the dissertation-writing grad student, the sampler includes nine varieties of caffeinated gum and mints. ($19.99; http://www.thinkgeek.com)

BAFFLE...

WEIGH OUT THERE

With this pocket-sized digital balance, one need never be at a loss for hard data. And, it is great for winning bar bets on the weight of a roasted peanut. About the size of a bifold wallet, this balance automatically calibrates to 100 grams, weight included. The range is 200 grams with a resolution of 0.1 gram. Comes with protective pouch. ($59.95; http://scientificsonline.com)

FUN WITH 0S AND 1S

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Anyone can read a regular clock, but it takes a special breed to decipher the display on this binary display timepiece. This clock isn't just for computer wonks; an easy-to-understand explanation will help even ordinary folks go binary. And everyone will enjoy the ever-changing light display. Your choice of red LED display with a semi-translucent red face, or blue LED display with a silver face. ($25.00, http://shop.npr.org)

MAGNIFY, POINT, AND CLICK

If FBI agent Fox Mulder of The X-Files had carried one of these, he may have been able to prove the existence of those pesky aliens after all. Real-life investigators in the field can spot what they're looking for and document the evidence with this binocular-digital camera combo. It's also great for concerts, sporting events, and outdoor adventures. The binoculars provide 8X magnification, and the bundled software helps you to produce professional-quality images from your desktop. ($69.99 http://shopping.rednova.com)

PI, ANYONE?

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What's the holiday season without some yummy pi? Allow the scientist in your life to indulge his or her obsession with this mystical, irrational number with a blue cotton t-shirt sporting the number's first 4,493 digits. Transcendental! ($14.99 each; http://www.thinkgeek.com)

EXPLORE THE NIGHT SKY

Perfect for the novice astronomer, this handheld computer tracking system shows you precisely where to find the star or planet you want to see. And if the object isn't viewable that night, the Night Navigator will tell you the next time it will be. If you don't know which particular star, planet, or constellation is in view, simply point the Night Navigator at the sky, and it will do the identifying for you. Comes with a 50-page booklet, "Navigating the Universe." ($99.95; http://shopping.discovery.com)

EXECUTIVE GEEK

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Everybody loves a good Levitron. Use the Levitron Omega to demonstrate your understanding and control of the electromagnetic force in executive, cherry-wood style. With practice, you'll be able to spin the top on nothing but magnetic waves. ($38.50; http://www.innovatoys.com)

FUZZY WUZZY MICROBES

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Who wouldn't like to get close to their favorite pathogens? Surprise the microbiologist in your life with a stuffed version of his or her life's work. Select from a roster including yeast, viruses, and bacteria; there's even a Martian microbe (ALH 84001). These plush little buggers are approximately 1,000,000-times their true size. Collect the whole set! ($5.99; http://www.thinkgeek.com)

LASER LUNACY

Add a touch of humor or surprise to your next presentation with this laser pointer keychain. Twelve different filters allow you to project a hand, a foot, a UFO, a happy birthday message, and many more choices. ($6.95; http://www.physlink.com)

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