NHM Alive tries to distill the wonderment and discovery of London’s Natural History Museum into app form — and mostly pulls it off. Sir David Attenborough acts as narrator and guide through the experience, which includes a mixture of photos, descriptive text, CGI stills, and videos that shine a light on the current scientific consensus regarding a cast of 10 prehistoric creatures. Developer Colossus Productions clearly made an effort here to instill a playful, discovery-driven element to the experience, but it’s not clear just what there is to discover — or how — and that makes the app seem frustratingly simple at first. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of detail lurking beneath the surface.
The Science Museum in London is a fantastic place to visit if you're interested in the history of technology, but if you’re in the States or elsewhere, the chances of seeing the exhibits contained therein may be rather remote. That’s precisely why Journeys of Invention from Touch Press is such a great resource, as it allows you to learn about and interact with objects that are on display in that museum, plus others stored in its repository that aren’t even viewable by members of the public. Journeys of Invention features 81 objects — like the Apollo 10 command module, or a 17th-century microscope — along with 14 compiled journeys that link them through a logical progression.
The periodic table: Every element known to man, organized and presented in an elegant, but arguably dry and boring way. Looking at numbers and letters aligned in a table doesn't really convey what each of those elements does, or what its respective function is. Of course, you could read about them, but The Elements in Action from Touch Press goes much further, letting you see every element — sans the ones that are extremely radioactive, or have an absurdly short half-life — via well-presented videos.
Sometimes there probably shouldn't be an app for that. Casting all ethical concerns into the wind, a company by the name of Backyard Brains has released a kit that lets you control living cockroaches with your iPhone for a matter of minutes. It's called the RoboRoach, and it's meant to show kids the relationship between "cyborg technology" and neuroscience — or, more practically, the technological advances that have helped treat Parkinson's Disease.
It’s hard to say whether or not Boson X is truly inspired by the April discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, which physicists believe explains why matter has mass. There’s theoretically some common ground. Whereas Higgs, which can supposedly explain the Big Bang, remained elusive to physicists for the past 50-plus years, Boson X is also about the discovery of new experimental subatomics, presumably for a greater understanding – or at least the self-serving satisfaction of winning. But the similarities between the so-called God particle and this ostensibly geeky behind-the-back runner unsurprisingly end there.
Okay, what are you doing this weekend? You're probably going to try and catch up on your favorite television shows, right? You should consider forfeiting that time to learn about the periodic table instead. No, I'm serious. And if you can do it for free and with your iPad, why wouldn't you?
A quick recap for those of you who haven't been following Valve's awesome video series starring Portal 2's co-op mode characters Atlus and P-Body. Every Monday until the release of Portal 2, Valve will be releasing a new hype/comedy video to promote the game's launch. Today we have the third in this sequence, and it stars the adorable/horrifying turrets of the original game.
In a move that can only be described as the most adorable (this writer's favorite animal in the whole wide world is this one), research scientist Jack Kassewitz has discovered that the iPad's touch-based interface can also be used by dolphins.