Stephen Hawking’s Snapshots of the Universe – A Big Bang

4.5 Overall Score
Usability: 4.5/5
Design: 4.5/5
Duration: 4/5

Great connection between interaction & scientific concepts | Excellent layout

We would love to see more sections | The experiments could go more in depth


Stephen Hawking has a brilliant mind, and he has been willing to share his advanced understating of the universe through lengthy books in the past. Now, his knowledge has been boiled down into an even simpler form with the new iPad app, Stephen Hawking’s Snapshots of the Universe. There have been some great interactive educational apps before, but this one seems to be at the head of its class right off the top. There are some complex physics topics out there covering the way the world works, the theory of relativity, the space time continuum, and more. Snapshots of the Universe makes these complex topics easily digestible which can appeal to all ages ranging from physics students to adults.
The app includes eight main sections with each one offering a brief overview, an interactive experiment, and a more in-depth analysis. The three methods work together to really teach you the physics model at work starting off with the interactive experiments. Each one is made for the iPad allowing you to slingshot planets into orbit, tilt to adjust gravity, move sliders to adjust relative speed, and more. Each experiment is reduced to its simplest form, while being applied to the real world to give you a proper understanding of the concept. There are pop-ups guiding you forward for a brief overview, and you can tap the “Why?” button for an in-depth discussion. The text explanation covers the science, and key theories in play to help you build your scientific knowledge from the real world interaction you just performed.

The best part of the app is that it makes it compelling and enjoyable to keep moving through the sections. One of the only drawbacks is that there are just eight sections to experience leaving you longing for more. There’s such a well designed balance between touch interactivity and scientific theories with the application and knowledge base seamed together. There’s also an excellent interface to swipe horizontally between sections, and swipe vertically to dive down into a given section. There are also some videos to reinforce the concepts, and the entire set-up is a much more friendly way to skim the surface of the lengthy discussion in Stephen Hawking’s full length books. The app takes excellent advantage of the capabilities of the iPad, and this is the best education tool I’ve come across on iOS yet.

Stephen Hawking’s Snapshots of the Universe ($4.99, Universal) offers a great educational tool for iPad that makes learning relatively complex physics concepts enjoyable and memorable with intuitive touch interaction.


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