Gifts for the Scientist in your Life 

by the author of the popular Mercury column It Sure is a Scientific World!,

MUCH LIKE GONORRHEA AND SYPHILIS, scientific gifts just keep on giving. As I like to tell my technicians here in the Mercury's Science Laboratory, "Why give a stupid gift to a smart person, when you can give something smart to an idiot?"

In my experience, empirical evidence shows, there's nothing funnier than a chimp with a Palm Pilot, except maybe Stephen Hawking with a parrot. Shop wisely.


The Moller M400 Skycar
What better way to show off your ruthless rise to the top, than flying around in YOUR NEW CAR! The gull-sucking Moller M400 Skycar is a personal vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that makes the Northrop B-2 Stealth Bomber look like the Spruce Goose wearing your grandma's baggy panties.

Cruising at speeds of 350-390 mph, you'll be blasting news choppers out of the sky with this deluxe, 960 horsepower, four-seater, which has a 7800 foot per minute rate of climb and an operational ceiling of 30,000 feet. This baby runs on regular gas (15 mpg), and comes with a free emergency parachute in case one of your buddies decides he isn't too drunk to ride on the hood.

According to the manufacturer, the Moller M400 Skycar combines "the performance of airplanes and the VTOL capability of helicopters in a single vehicle without the limitations of either. Using a principle similar to that of the British Harrier jump jet, the Moller (M400) incorporates a patented thrust deflection vane system that redirects thrust, enabling it to hover or to takeoff and land vertically from almost any surface."

Advanced aerodynamic engineering, three-dimensional mobility, and it's cherry red. Stick that Lamborghini up your ass, loser! I'm flying to Las Vegas for some corn nuts and prickly pear moonshine!

Available at: www.moller.com/skycar
Price: $120,000+ ($40 grand after mass production begins)


Prehistoric Turtle
Nothing, and I mean nothing, says "love" like the gift of Prehistoric Turtle Turds. It's even fun to say! Known in paleontological circles as Coprolite (fossilized dinosaur feces), these little butt-puppets are over 60 million years old, and make great conversation pieces (or keychains for that matter). Tired of hearing the kids bitch about coal in their stockings? Pop in a few turtle turds and they'll never gripe again!

Straight from the asses of ancient, giant turtles, these coprolite specimens have been hermetically sealed in pockets of hard clay in Washington State since the Eocene Period, and now they can be yours from The Nature Source.

The Nature Source sells other coprolite products, including Hadrosaur dung from the Cretaceous Age, which (the catalog reports) vary in color, depending upon exposure to the numerous elements involved in the "mineralization process."

"The mass that we have available has a wonderful greenish tint," a Nature Source spokesperson says. "This is 'Grade-A' Coprolite from Utah. It is very large and we have cut 'slabs' from it. The slabs are all consecutive cuts and measure approximately 8.5 inches wide!!! They are Krylon coated to add sheen." Grandma, get ready to cry tears of joy.

Price: $35-60 per nugget
Hadrosaur Coprolite: $55 per slab, 2 slabs for $85
Available at: www.nature-source.com


The Aesculap Cervical Plating Systemâ„¢
For home surgery buffs, it sure can be disappointing to open a present, only to find the same cliché gifts you got last year. How many sets of Stainless Steel Intestinal Spatulas, Surgical Bone Rongeurs, or boring Genito-Urinary Instruments do you need?

Well, hold on to your holiday herpes, because here's a gift you and your friends can enjoy for years to come!

Aesculap's new top-o'-the-line Cervical Plating System is just what the doctor ordered. Why settle for a primitive bone structured spinal column, when you can have a titanium reinforced spine like Wolverine from the X-Men? Tired of those rascals at work pulling the chair out from under you? Want to dive into empty swimming pools? What about tricking your chiropractor into thinking he's a pathetic weakling? The Cervical Plating System could be for you!

According to the catalog, "The ABC system consists of titanium alloy anterior cervical plates in various lengths and configurations, and bone screws to affix the plate to the anterior cervical spine. The screws, colored green and blue for easy identification, come in self-tapping unicortical versions [wow!] and are available in 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 millimeter lengths." Woo-hoo! Christmas is saved!

Aesculap Cervical Plating Systemâ„¢
Price: If you have to ask... you probably can't afford a new titanium spine.
Available at: http://www.aesculapusa.com


The Gift of a Buffalo Teat
What do you give a Third World kid who has everything (including malaria)? How about a nice, lactating water buffalo?

The good folks at the Heifer Project have created an international institution that provides gifts of livestock to children in poverty-stricken nations, by "selling" them through its online catalog--and there's no sign of Sally Struthers. In countries where a few chickens constitute a dowry--a goat could help feed a family of 10, and a water buffalo can plow acres of tractor-sinking rice patties, as well as fertilize the crops--such a gift can give hope and provide vital sustenance.

"You would be amazed at the difference the simple gift of an animal can make in the life of a struggling family," the Heifer Project says. "Browse this catalog of truly meaningful gifts and help families around the world become self-reliant."

How, you may ask, can such a great idea sound so stupid? Hey, you're the one who thought buying a turtle turd was a good idea.

Available at: http://catalog.heifer.org/buffalo.cfm
Price: $250 per buffalo ($25 if you want to go in on one with other cheapskates)

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