cool math-y gifts?
May 12, 2011 8:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an awesome, tactile, mathy gift for a friend of mine. Suggestions?

You know, something like a Klein bottle hat or a spherical puzzle, except something that I haven't actually seen before....
posted by kaibutsu to Shopping (27 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Have you scoured ThinkGeek?
posted by mnemonic at 8:06 PM on May 12, 2011

Set is always a winner.
posted by phunniemee at 8:06 PM on May 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I love my Motif Cubes.
posted by baho at 8:07 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Buckyballs!
posted by downing street memo at 8:14 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I recently bought myself an awesome slide rule from ThinkGeek.

Knowing how to use it makes me feel like the geek champion of the world.
posted by CarolynG at 8:14 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How about a Klein bottle opener? Bathsheba Sculpture has been featured on the Blue and most of her stuff is extremely math-y.
posted by Quietgal at 8:16 PM on May 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by 4ster at 8:25 PM on May 12, 2011

Klein hats and moebius scarves.
posted by mhoye at 8:29 PM on May 12, 2011

Best answer: Look at the wonderful gamepuzzles at Kadon Enterprises. Super-mathy and beautiful.
posted by Ery at 8:31 PM on May 12, 2011

I stenciled Gauss onto a t-shirt as a graduation present for a (rather nerdy) friend of mine.
posted by phunniemee at 8:40 PM on May 12, 2011

Best answer: What you want is this etsy store. I got a plush standard normal distribution for my birthday and it's sooo cuuuute.
posted by troublesome at 8:51 PM on May 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Ball of whacks.
posted by Mr. Justice at 9:30 PM on May 12, 2011

I endorse the slide rule. Slide rules are awesome, us math-nerds love them.
posted by gkhan at 9:57 PM on May 12, 2011

Seconding set. It's a great game. I've even brought it traveling, and played it with people with whom I don't completely have a language in common.
posted by one little who at 10:03 PM on May 12, 2011

Best answer: If it's the fellow who can be entertained for hours by creating perfectly spherical mud balls, then maybe this isn't the answer, but it looks like Set has a version with dice now.

Maybe also see if you get any ideas from Vi Hart's website? Balloons, maybe? Or beads for dreads? I bet you could even email or call her 530 number to see if she has ideas.
posted by aniola at 10:17 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mathematical sculptures
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: definitely some good leads there, team! The buckyballs look pretty great, as does the etsy store.

aniola: Yeah, the Vi Hart-style giant pile of dollar-store snakes definitely crossed my mind...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:26 PM on May 12, 2011

Best answer: Kaleidocycles.

Hexaflexagons, invented at Princeton in the late thirties and developed in part by Feynman, which are chains of tetrahedrons joined edge to edge and formed into rings, kind of like an extremely pointy and scary-looking polyhedral donut from Bizarro world that can be turned through the hole in ways that hardly seem possible, have been decorated with designs of M. C. Escher by I don't know who and put into a book of kits that you can assemble yourself by Doris Schattsneider.

The results are beautiful and mesmerizing, reminiscent of Rubiks Cube but with no puzzle to be solved except your own puzzled amazement.
posted by jamjam at 11:04 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

just so you know, last time those buckyballs came up on woot, someone said the paint rubs off them really quickly and quite a few people concurred, so I would steer clear.
posted by saveyoursanity at 11:10 PM on May 12, 2011

Best answer: Gyro the Cube, a 3D-printed gyroscope thing. Check the video at the bottom of the page. I bookmarked the thing precisely to serve as a an awesome, tactile, mathy gift.
posted by krilli at 1:14 AM on May 13, 2011

Best answer: are an alternative to buckyballs. Cheaper, and I've had mine for months (and played with them a lot) with no noticeable degradation.
posted by alexei at 2:12 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A Gomboc?
posted by embrangled at 3:12 AM on May 13, 2011

Best answer: Yoshimoto Cube.
posted by not that girl at 5:04 AM on May 13, 2011

Best answer: A pair of Sicherman dice.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2011

Best answer: Tavern puzzles?
posted by fancyoats at 1:52 PM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: Cool, thanks everyone for helping! I made a choice which will arrive soon...

Re Gomboc: I was actually trying to remember the name of that thing; thanks for the pointer.

So many of these were incredible. Best answers for (almost) everyone!
posted by kaibutsu at 5:15 PM on May 16, 2011

Response by poster: Now that the gift has been given: I ended up going with the Zen Magnets. I'm not a fan of the commodification of Zen, but it sounded like the highest quality version of what seemed to be the awesomest possible gift for the person involved. (Who was, indeed, the someone who enjoys making dirt balls, as aniola guessed... but that's all side chatter.) the other answers were awesome though, and will undoubtedly be revisited in the future!
posted by kaibutsu at 10:46 PM on May 20, 2011

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