Since this was released in 2010 I have probably cumulatively spent
hours DAYS on this app.
I remember pleading for my dad to buy this on his iPad for weeks after seeing it advertised in a magazine. When he finally gave in, I pretty much took over his iPad for a week…
When I finally bought my own iPad to help with studying at uni (the app ‘notability’ was a life changer for me) this app was a MUST on my list of new purchases.
This app is only available on iOS and is best used on an iPad to take advantage of the bigger screen as you will soon see, the images and content on this app are simply stunning. Regardless of its incredible vast array of scientific info about every single element that we currently know about, the presentation of this app alone could win it awards. The home screen sets out the periodic table as your playground. Each element has it’s own feature image that you can freely rotate from the home page, which is really fun to just play around with.
The fun really starts when you zoom in on any element of your choosing and are welcomed with a story-esque approach to explaining each building block of the universe. You get the classic atomic weight, density, melting/boiling points with little gems like audio with proper pronunciation and often multiple images of that element in action. Each image has been photographed to a very high resolution so they look beautiful and can be manually enlarged, rotated and even shown in stereo 3D (you’ll need to experiment with cross-eyed vision or buy some special cheap glasses online).
At the top right of each element page, you’ll find a flame icon that redirects you to another app (if you buy it, which you should) that demonstrates the elements in action. This includes some short experimental videos to show off each element in all it’s glory. Explosions galore!!
In the main menu, you’ll also find a video showing you all the elements in turn to the famous tune by Tom Lehrer. I remember being first shown this song by my secondary school chemistry teacher during a lesson and I think it’s probably the moment when I realised I was a science nerd for enjoying it so much… It’s nice to see it come alive within this app nonetheless. There is also a really modern Japanese take on the song that they’ve included, which is… Interesting…
OPTIONAL EXTRA – molecules
Another extra that has since been introduced on the app store is ‘molecules’, which if downloaded, becomes an extension from the elements within the menu screen. From the home screen you can choose to view the content in book form, where everything is split into chapters with the stunningly interactive images that featured in the elements.
Or you can choose the ‘gallery of molecules’ option, which is way more dynamic. Here, you are presented with pages after pages of interactive molecules organised alphabetically and by appearance in each chapter of the book. Upon choosing one, you now have the freedom to drag the molecule around the page however you choose. You can even alter the theoretical temperature and speed of the molecule to see how this alters it’s structure in 3D.
There is also a 2D structure that you can’t move about so its much less interesting, but useful if you want a straightforward representation of complicated molecular structures. There is an info tab for each molecule that outlines alternative names, chemical formulae, class and the elements included in the molecule (with links back to the original elements app to get even more info). There is also a link to the relevant chapter if you want to learn more.
Obviously, Theodore was never going to fit every molecule into this app, like he could with the periodic table of elements. Nevertheless, the essence of this app is to act as a person’s first chemistry set that covers the basics of molecules and their interactions.
Its also nice to see a little bio of Theodore himself in the menu of this extra along with Nick Mann (the photographer).
What makes these apps stand out is the brilliance of connectivity between the 3 components and the stunning details put into capturing the elements in all their glory via pictures and videos. The textual components are equally engaging and bring science back to how it all began – curiosity.