App

Just because it’s elementary doesn’t mean it’s basic (although it is a bit)

The title of this app pretty much says it all: you get to see a selection of entries from the Periodic Table doing their thing, from hydrogen bubbles popping on a flame, to Uranium fogging up a sheet of photographic paper. You simply tap on an element to watch a video, and swipe to see the next one in turn. 

Magnesium turnings are ignited in dry ice to light up this festive face

Magnesium turnings are ignited in dry ice to light up this festive face

Tapping the video brings up a brief description of the element and its actions (which mainly revolve around being burnt or made to react with another material), and the video loops until you scroll to another entry, or tap to go back to the Periodic Table.

And that’s basically it. There are only 79 videos because, presumably, a lot of the other elements are either inert or just too dangerous to handle – and those after Uranium (the transuranic elements) are largely man-made and therefore both incredibly dangerous and very expensive. 

Tap on the video and a description pops up explaining the experiment in question

Tap on the video and a description pops up explaining the experiment in question

However, it is shame that there isn’t some entry for the missing entries, such as a caption describing each element and what it’s used for.

Touch Press suggests that the app is best partnered with its other title, The Elements: A Visual Exploration, which is a more academic look at the periodic table. When both apps are present, they link together and can be cross referenced. However, the Visual Exploration is only on iPad so that’s not much use to iPhone users without a tablet. 

Not every element gets a video; some only exist in labs for brief periods of time!

Not every element gets a video; some only exist in labs for brief periods of time!

But whatever your take on the app itself, there’s no denying the wealth of fascinating info inside. Admittedly, it’s a little too bite-sized for our liking, but you can’t help but gaze in wonder at the bromine witch, sodium and potassium’s dislike of water, or boron’s colourful flame. For anyone interested in the world around them, this is a fun, if slightly brief, introduction to the world of chemistry.

Price: $3.99/£2.49

Size: 12.5 MB

Version: 1.3

Platform: iOS Universal

Developer: Pixite LLC

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The Elements in Action Review: Great Way to Learn the Periodic Table
A fascinating exploration of (most of) the periodic table. A little light on substance perhaps, but still worth the asking price
For
  • Lighthearted and informative visual guide through the periodic table
  • Encourages your inner geek
  • Videos of things on fire
Against
  • Lacking explanations for the elements which were presumably too dangerous or costly to get videos of
4.0Overall Score