The Elements for iPhone 4 (UK version)
Compatible with iPhone 4.
Requires iOS 3.1 or later.The Elements for iPhone 4 (UK version),
Age Rating: 4+
The Elements for iPhone 4 is an incredibly handy app for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about the periodic table and the stuff that make up everything around us. Or for anyone in year nine cramming to memorise elements 1 to 20 for an upcoming chemistry exam.
When the iPad arrived, a few select apps were featured prominently to illustrate just what the device was capable of. The Elements by Touch Press was one such app that promised to change the way we learn by taking seemingly boring subjects – no offence to all the chemists reading – and making them interactive and enjoyable.
Now the iPhone version means you can have all that information in your pocket wherever you go – so long as you’ve got 1.2GB free on your iPhone 4.
Optimised for the Retina display, the app opens to a periodic table filled with animated elements that really shows off just how tiny the pixels on the phone are: all 118 elements are displayed, each in an area approximately 2mm by 2mm (and you can still make out the detail).
Tapping on any element will bring up a screen of easily digestible information and a fully rotatable image (just spin it with your finger). Depending on how popular that element is, there are probably a few more screens of images and facts to flick through. For example, the app offers this information about diamonds (which are a form of carbon):
Contrary to popular belief, diamonds are not particularly rare, nor are they unusually beautiful, nor are they forever: all three are myths created by the DeBeers diamond company. Diamonds would cost about a tenth as much but for DeBeers’s monopoly control. Cubic zirconia or crystalline silicon carbide are just as pretty. And at moderately high temperatures, diamonds burn easily.
I know at least one girl who would wholeheartedly disagree with part of that fact.
Each element also links through to its page on WolframAlpha if you crave some more in-depth scientific and technical knowledge.
If you are a year nine student working your way through the periodic table, rest assured that the UK version of the app (which is the version I am reviewing) features the right spellings for Australian readers, so you shouldn’t get confused whether it’s ‘aluminum’ (wrong) or ‘aluminium’ (right) once test time comes around. It’s a nice touch that the developers realised that US English isn’t the only way to spell. There are also German, French and Japanese versions available in case you’re feeling multilingual.
The Elements originally came about as a coffee table book in 2009 – The Elements, A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray – but has found greater success in this interactive electronic form. It even features a song about the elements that might help you to remember them all. Add that to the rotatable images and links to the WolframAlpha database, and the iPhone (and indeed iPad) version of The Elements offers much more than a printed book ever could.
I hope more educational books go down a similar route to The Elements, but am a bit jealous that all my years of schooling came before the existence of such apps. The only real downside is the size of the app – at a massive 1.2GB you won’t be downloading this one over 3G any time soon.
The Elements is a nicely designed app that features well-written educational, yet entertaining, information. If you’re a chemistry nerd with an iPhone 4, there’s no reason not to buy it.The Elements for iPhone 4 (UK version),