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11 Brilliant Gifts for the Board Game Lover in Your Life

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Board games are currently enjoying a renaissance; family favorites are still going strong, but a new class of games has emerged and created their own culture. Whether your favorite gamer is a child or a chess master (or a child chess master), we've got you covered.

1. SUSHI GO!; $11

This fast-paced card game is good-natured fun for ages 8 and up. Users score points by grabbing the best combination of sushi dishes and finishing the meal with the most pudding dessert. The short play time (only 20 minutes) makes it a perfect choice for those with short attention spans, and the little box and friendly price point make it an ideal stocking stuffer.

Find it: Amazon

2. MEEPLE GAME PIECES; PRICES VARY

No need to splurge on a new game to make somebody’s day; you could just help restore or jazz up the one they already have. Meeple Source offers wooden tokens and resources like coins and crops. You can also buy game-specific upgrade kits for today’s most popular titles.

Find it: Meeple Source

3. FIREFLY MONOPOLY; $32

With Firefly Monopoly, fans of the beloved sci-fi series (ages 8 and up) can be big damn heroes, stealing precious real estate right from under the Alliance’s nose and drawing “Gorram” and “Shiny!” cards.

Find it: Amazon

4. 1000 BLANK WHITE CARDS STARTER KIT; $10

For the gamer who has everything, try giving the gift of game creation. The rules are simple: there are no rules. You can make your own starter kit for less than $10 with blank white index cards, a few pens, and a box to keep them in. It may not look like much, but trust us: this game is awesome.

Find it: Your local office supply store 

5. AGRICOLA; $54

Never before has agriculture been so fun. Agricola players compete to rack up the most points through peaceful pastimes like farming, fishing, cooking, and herding. Fans of the TV show Orphan Black may also recognize Agricola as the centerpiece of Scott Smith’s beloved game night.

Find it: Amazon

6. ICE SPEED CHESS SET; $13

This ice chess set turns up the heat on gameplay, forcing players to move quickly before their pieces melt. The set comes with two silicone molds to make two sets of chess pieces.

Find it: ThinkGeek

7. BOARD GAME BOX ORGANIZERS; $24 AND UP

Some of today’s most popular games involve a lot of pieces. To minimize that chaos, The Broken Token offers board game box organizers. Each organizer is title-specific, designed to tidy up the boxes of the most popular games on the market.

Find it: The Broken Token

8. KING OF TOKYO; $40

The goal is simple, but the obstacles are legion. Each player in King of Tokyo is a monster with visions of world domination. But to claim the title of King of Tokyo, everybody else has to go down. The monster fights, detailed art, and satisfying gameplay make this great entertainment for both parties and kids.

Find it: Iello Games

9. TICKET TO RIDE; $39

Learning how to play Ticket to Ride is easy, but mastering it is another story. Players become retro railroad tycoons, battling it out to build the most rail lines across the U.S. If that’s just not enough territory, the game also comes in Asian, African, and European editions.

Find it: Amazon

10. CHAIN MAIL DICE BAG; $10

This dice bag is both hefty and roomy, making it a great home for a beloved dice collection—and the perfect Secret Santa gift or stocking stuffer for a tabletop gamer.

Find it: ThinkGeek

11. MYSTERIUM; $68

In a twist on the classic murder mystery, Mysterium turns one of the players into a ghost, who must then get the other players to identify the killer. For all its morbid fun, the game is cooperative, not competitive, which makes it a great choice for parties.

Find it: Amazon

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
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science
Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

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