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11 holiday gift ideas for the person impossible to shop for

From coffee makers and headphones to a calming weighted blanket, something here should appeal to just about anyone on your list.

  • Check out 11 awesome holiday gift ideas, each up 75% off.
  • Options include an ultrasonic cleaner, a portable video projector and a weighted blanket.
  • You can save an extra 15% off each item with the coupon code MERRYSAVE15.


  • There's always someone on your holiday shopping list who presents a major challenge. Oh, they aren't trying to make your life difficult. But whether it's a cousin or a sibling or even your dear old Mom, you just have a tough time finding them the right gift.

    We get it. That's why we pulled together 11 very fun, yet very different gift ideas that should help you crack the code for those most head-scratching giftees. From coffee makers to headphones to even a new warm blanket, something here should appeal to just about anyone on your list. And as a bonus, if you enter the code MERRYSAVE15 at checkout, you can lop another 15 percent off your total.

    Rocketbook Wave Executive Smart Notebook with Pen Station - $23.79 after coupon; originally $35.99

    Here’s something for the compulsive note-taker on your list. Just jot handwritten notes with the included Pilot FriXion pen into your Rocketbook and you can instantly upload them to the cloud using your smartphone. And when you fill up the notebook? Just pop it in the microwave to erase your notebook and start again.

    Sonic Soak Ultrasonic Cleaner - $115.59 after coupon; originally $250

    From clothes and hairbrushes to glasses and even fruits and vegetables, the Sonic Soak can clean just about anything. Drop the Sonic Soak and your items in a sink or bowl of water and the Sonic Soak's ultrasonic vibrations remove dirt, oils and other contaminants from your laundry, food, jewelry, personal care items and more. It's a super-cool (and efficient) way to clean -- and it's over half off.

    Wilfa Precision Automatic Coffee Brewer - $72.24 after coupon; originally $349.99

    This state-of-the-coffee-art maker from Norway looks as good on the counter as it brews...and it brews pretty darn well! The award-winning machine offers a sleek, elegant look that puts your brewing process on full display, while delivering the perfect cup of joe every time. At under $75, this is a gift that will win the attention and love of any coffee fanatic.

    AquaSonic Black Series Toothbrush & Travel Case With 8 Dupont Brush Heads - $33.99 after coupon; originally $139.99

    Take your personal hygiene up a notch with a premium quality sonic toothbrush that removes more than 10 times the plague a traditional brush can reach. Including various whitening and cleaning modes, you'll see tooth stains dissolve and gum health improve. Plus, you get eight extra brush heads, all at over $100 off the regular price.

    PaMu Slide Bluetooth 5.0 In-Ear Headphones with Wireless Charger - $84.99 (After coupon; originally $199)

    For those constantly struggling to keep wireless earbuds in place, these earphones are ergonomically designed to remain firmly in your ear canal at all times, even when you're jogging, exercising or traveling. These buds are powered by a Qualcomm chip with Bluetooth 5.0 tech, feature up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge and produce robust sound with extra bass, and they're currently more than half off.

    CIRQ: World's Smallest 1080p Projector - $254.15 after coupon; originally $600

    Screen your own films and television shows anywhere you are. The CIRQ connects wirelessly to your phone via WiFi, then projects full HD quality video on a surface up to 240 inches across. It's even got its own built-in speakers for the full movie theater experience. It's also close to $350 off with this holiday discount.

    Cushion Lab The Calm Embrace Weighted Blanket - $118.15 after coupon; originally $249

    The Calm Embrace is perfect for anyone experiencing anxiety and stress, offering deep pressure stimulation that help release brain chemicals to provide soothing relief while you sleep. At over 50 percent off, this blanket is its own self-care routine that can help anyone feel calming comfort, anytime, anywhere.


    Jamstik 7 Guitar Trainer - $152.99 after coupon; originally $199.99

    Save $20 on perhaps the most advanced method around for learning to play guitar like a rock star. The high tech, lightweight, and portable Jamstik 7 combined with its powerful app delivers a training process that takes all the guesswork out of learning to play. It's only 18 inches, but it's just like playing the real thing.

    Mighty Vibe Spotify Music Player - $67.99 after coupon; originally $84.99

    With the Mighty Vibe, you can rock out to all your favorite Spotify playlists and podcasts without using your smartphone, a screen or even a WiFi or Bluetooth connection. The Mighty Vibe syncs and saves your playlists to the unit, so you can take your music anywhere and never worry about losing your signal.

    SINGER Heavy Duty 4452 Sewing Machine (Refurbished) - $101.99 after coupon; originally $299.99

    When this Singer machine says heavy duty, it means heavy duty. Denim, canvas, almost any manner of tough durable fabric won't slow down this powerful sewer's 1,110 stitches per minute top speed. At nearly $200 off when bought refurbished, this is a machine capable of handling nearly any sewing project with all the added features you'd expect from a true Singer sewing machine.

    8BitDo SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad - $20.39 after coupon; originally $29.99

    This Bluetooth connected controller syncs to almost any gaming device for a true retro gaming experience. The SN30 Gamepad sports 18 hours of game life and works with everything from Windows, Android and macOS to even Steam and the Nintendo Switch. And with the added discount, it's practically priced like a stocking stuffer.

    Prices are subject to change.

    When you buy something through a link in this article or from our shop, Big Think earns a small commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.

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    A group of meteorites come from 1 single planetesimal

    The meteorites suggest astronomers may have small, early planets wrong.

    Image source: Madhuvan Yadav/Unsplash
    Surprising Science
    • A group of meteorites that have come down all over the Earth have something in common.
    • They all come from one early-universe baby planet, or planetesimal.
    • That planetesimal was apparently not what astronomers expected.

    Before planets formed, astronomers believe, there were lots of mini-planets, or planetesimals, many of which eventually broke apart — they're believed to be the source of meteorites that strike Earth. Perhaps surprisingly, a group of meteorites all around the globe come from the very same planetesimal. Not only is that a bit weird, but the evidence suggests that this former baby planet was not what scientists thought a planetesimal could be.

    The research, "Meteorite evidence for partial differentiation and protracted accretion of planetesimals," is published in ScienceAdvances. The research was partially funded by NASA.

    Planetesimals

    Image source: Maria Starovoytova/Shutterstock

    Some things are pretty much known about planetesimals. First, it's believed that they formed out of the swirling mass of gas and dust that was our universe roughly 4.5 billion years ago. As the universe cooled, bits began to crash into each other, forming these small bodies. It's been thought that they formed quickly as these things go — in less than a few million years.

    Early planetesimals, forming in the first 1.5 billion years of our solar system, would have pulled in radiogenic materials from the hot universe. This material gave off heat as it decayed, and so the cosmic rubble comprising these planetesimals was melted into a relatively homogeneous achondritic mass. Radiogenic materials would less available to planetesimals formed later, and their rubble, though merged into a planetesimal, would be unmelted, or chondritic.

    There may have been planetesimals that formed in the middle period, between early and late. The study notes, "This could have resulted in partially differentiated internal structures, with individual bodies containing iron cores, achondritic silicate mantles, and chondritic crusts." However, there's been little evidence of such "intermediate" planetesimals.

    Until now, it's been basically a binary proposition: melted or unmelted. Which gets us to the family of meteorites.

    IIE irons

    Image source: Carl Agee, Institute of Meteoritics, University of New Mexico/MIT News

    When meteorites are found and studied, the type of planetesimal from which they came is usually clear: melted or unmelted. Not so a family of meteorites called the "IIE irons." (IIE is their chemical type.)

    As study co-author Benjamin Weiss of MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) explains, "These IIE irons are oddball meteorites. They show both evidence of being from primordial objects that never melted, and also evidence for coming from a body that's completely or at least substantially melted. We haven't known where to put them, and that's what made us zero in on them."

    Researchers had previously established that all of these IIE iron outliers — which themselves can be either achondritic or chondritic — came from the same planetesimal, and that raises some intriguing questions.

    As study lead author Clara Maurel, a grad student at EAPS, puts it, "This is one example of a planetesimal that must have had melted and unmelted layers." Did that baby planet perhaps have a solid crust over a liquid mantle? "[The IIE irons encourage] searches for more evidence of composite planetary structures," she says. "Understanding the full spectrum of structures, from nonmelted to fully melted, is key to deciphering how planetesimals formed in the early solar system."

    Back to the planetesimal

    Image source: Maurel, et al

    One particularly interesting question was this, says Maurel: "Did this object melt enough that material sank to the center and formed a metallic core like that of the Earth? That was the missing piece to the story of these meteorites."

    If that was the case, the scientists reasoned, mightn't such a core generate a magnetic field in the same way that Earth's core does? Some minerals in the planetesimal might have become oriented in the direction of the field, similarly to the way a compass works here. And if all that's the case, those same minerals in the IIE irons might still retain that orientation.

    The researchers acquired two of the IIE iron meteorites, named Colomera and Techado, in which they detected iron-nickel minerals known for their ability to retain magnetic properties.

    The team took their meteorites to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for analysis using the lab's Advanced Light Source that can detect minerals' magnetic direction using X-rays that interact with their grains.

    The electrons in both IIE irons were pointed in the same direction, providing additional confirmation of their common source and suggesting their planetesimal indeed had a magnetic field, and it roughly equivalent in size to the Earth's.

    The simplest explanation for the effect was that the planetesimal had a liquid metallic core that would have been a minimum of tens of kilometers wide. This implication suggests that previous assumptions regarding the speedy formation of planetesimals is, at least in the case of this one, wrong. This planetesimal must have formed over the course of several million years.

    Back to the IIE irons

    Colomera and Techado roughly agree on their planetesimal's cooling pattern.

    Image source: Maurel, et al

    All of this got the researchers wondering where in this surprisingly complex planetesimal the meteorites might've come from. They partnered with scientists from the University of Chicago to develop models of how this all might've gone down.

    Maurel's team came to suspect that after the planetesimal cooled down and imprinted the magnetic field on the minerals, collisions with other bodies tore them away. She hypothesizes, "As the body cools, the meteorites in these pockets will imprint this magnetic field in their minerals. At some point, the magnetic field will decay, but the imprint will remain. Later on, this body is going to undergo a lot of other collisions until the ultimate collisions that will place these meteorites on Earth's trajectory."

    It's impossible to know for now whether the planetesimal that produced the IIR irons was unusual, or if its history is typical for planetesimals. If so, the simple melted/unmelted dichotomy needs to be reconsidered.

    "Most bodies in the asteroid belt appear unmelted on their surface. If we're eventually able to see inside asteroids," says Weiss, "we might test this idea. Maybe some asteroids are melted inside, and bodies like this planetesimal are actually common."

    The Anthropause is here: COVID-19 reduced Earth's vibrations by 50 percent

    The planet is making a lot less noise during lockdown.

    Photo by Eric Rojas/Getty Images
    Coronavirus
    • A team of researchers found that Earth's vibrations were down 50 percent between March and May.
    • This is the quietest period of human-generated seismic noise in recorded history.
    • The researchers believe this helps distinguish between natural vibrations and human-created vibrations.
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    Dinosaurs suffered from cancer, study confirms

    A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.

    Surprising Science
    • The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
    • After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
    • The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
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