Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Scientists: Virgin Galactic Tickets and a Tattoo

And just how's everyone going to fit in that thing, Richard? (AP Photo/Thierry Boccon-Gibod)

It's one week until Christmas. Do you have something wrapped under the genetically modified Christmas tree for the mad scientist in YOUR life?

Yesterday, ScienceStuff's Allison Loudermilk highlighted some fine sciency clothing and book gift ideas, and today I'm going to touch on a couple more. Sound good? Excellent. Let's get to the good part.

Blast them into space: Chances are, that special person in your life has yet to venture into the ultimate void of outer space. The statistics are with me on this one -- even if you're buying a gift for an actual astronaut. As pointed out on "This American Life," NASA employs roughly 95 astronauts but never launches more than a couple of missions a year.

Granted, you could try and get your scientist into orbit via membership in some sort of goofy space cult, but we both know you're buying on too tight a budget to buy him or her a pair of Heaven's Gate signature wind runners as well. Luckily, Earth's growing space tourism industry offers a fine holiday alternative to ritual castration. Why not buy them a ticket on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic?

Granted, this won't be a gift they'll get to enjoy right away. The first commercial Virgin Galactic flight might not happen until 2011. Plus, you'll need to make at least a $20,000 deposit on that $200,000 ticket price. If that sounds like a winning gift, you can go ahead and book the trip right here. If not, well, maybe you could just buy them some space music.

Buy them a tattoo: If you can't get them off the planet you can at least get under their skin -- perhaps with a science-themed tattoo? Imagine how empowered they'll feel with their favorite element's periodic square etched on their wrist -- or maybe the Pioneer plaque illustration. Check out this gallery of science tattoos at Gajitz for a few examples.

For my own part, I'm not really in the market for a new tattoo at the moment. But if I HAD to pick out a scientific tattoo design, I'd be tempted to go with one of Johannes Kepler's fine designs.

Now get out there and finish your shopping, already!

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Scientists: Five: Spiffy New Threads and Sweet Reads Four: Virgin Galactic Tickets and a Tattoo Three: A Plane Ticket to Switzerland Two: Stem Cell Lines One: Funding!

Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Scientists: A Plane Ticket to Switzerland

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.