I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but as a mathematician, I’ve been on the receiving end of one too many well-intentioned protractor cases and Π-themed pie plates. And I’ll concede, if you are anything like me, it is likely a challenge for your loved ones to shop for your bizarrely math-obsessed tastes. But to help you, my matheux readers, here are some of the items I’ll be posting to my Christmas list this year.
Nothing bespeaks your love for mathematics quite like a T-shirt bearing the likeness of Srinivasa Ramanujan or the Princeps mathematicorum himself, Carl Friedrich Gauss. Now this is possible thanks to Michael Rubinstein, a professor at the University of Waterloo, and his fine collection of mathematical swag. using historical paintings and photos, Rubinstein sketched these famous mathematicians in intense black and white, and from his sketches he has curated a collection of T-shirts and tote bags to satisfy even the most snoooty of number theorists on your list. And I have personally experienced the effect of these shirts, I recently ran into Rubinstein at ICERM when I locked eyes with Ramanujan’s icy stare from across the room. You can get art posters, T-shirts, and tote bags at his online store here — I’m particular to the Ramanujan tote myself.
The Fibonacci Clock was launched as a Kickstarter campaign by Philippe Chrétien. The clock is powered by a small Arduino computer, and displays the time by lighting up different colored panels in Fibonacci’s famous golden rectangle. The clock itself is very stylish and beautiful, but it’s also a fun brain exercise because you’re required to do some quick arithmetic to read the time. The squares indicate the numbers 1,1,2,3,5 in the Fibonacci sequence, and the display color — red, green, or blue — indicates whether the number represents minutes, hours, or both. The clock can now be purchased here for $135 fully assembled, or as a pile of parts for $85. Obviously, go for the second option.
Finally, for that barren office wall that needs some pizazz, the beautiful mathematical prints at Geometry Daily are a feast for the eyes. The prints are by graphic artist Tilman Zitzmann, and I’ll admit, have shown up here on the Blog on Math Blogs before. Prints can be purchased at the artist’s Society6 online store and start as low as $20. The only difficulty that I see with these prints — and indeed the reason that I don’t currently own one — is that it’s so hard to pick a favorite. And that makes these a perfect gift item, because then you can burden someone else with choosing it for you.
If you have other great mathematical gift ideas, let me know on Twitter @extremefriday. And for the math educators on your list, I have to end with a hat-tip to my little brother for getting me the most, not mathematical, but certainly professorial, gift ever: A chrome telescoping pocket pointer. Bust this baby out midway through the semester, and it makes L’Hopital’s Rule go down real easy.