Four and a half years after Theodore Gray released the breakthrough iPad science application The Elements: A Visual Exploration, developer Touch Press has published Molecules by Theodore Gray ($14), billed as an “extraordinary sequel.” While The Elements was neatly organized using a fully animated version of the Periodic Table, Molecules is closer to a 14-chapter book in design, yet preserves the incredible rotating and interactive 3-D objects that were such a phenomenon during the original iPad’s introduction. It also continues Gray’s tradition of breezily walking readers through complex science using clear language and engaging examples, including more of the subtle, erudite humor that made The Elements so charming.
A virtual table of contents lets readers learn about the molecules and compounds inside foods, liquids, and everyday objects, selecting from animated images such as a honeycomb, a rock formation, a moving fountain, or a glass filled with dry ice. Most of the pages contain multiple paragraphs of explanatory text alongside objects that can be spun around by 360 degrees, playing back a series of photographs taken from every angle. Additionally, a university-developed molecular simulation engine enables accurate representations of molecules to be manipulated in full 3-D, sometimes with temperature and time sliders to increase the pace of their energetic movements. Now built for Retina displays, the app doesn’t let iPad users zoom in on objects, but does include separate portrait and landscape iPad modes, as well as iPhone support. Released last week as version 1.0, it’s currently at version 1.1. Additional pictures can be seen below.