Find: The solar system spins onto the iPad

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The solar system spins onto the iPad

Paul Marks, senior technology correspondent

(Image: Touch Press LLP)

Few iPad applications have demonstrated the astonishing learning potential of the touchscreen better than The Elements, a stunning touch-driven visualisation of the denizens of the periodic table. Choose any element and you can see gorgeous high res photos (or movies) of it and, thanks to the touchscreen, spin the picture any which way. Short of lab work, it makes science tactile in a whole new way.
Described by one website as "the app that's had many reviewers nearly swooning with giddy geek pleasure", The Elements has sold 160,000 copies to date. Now the publisher Touchpress has brought out a follow-up, Solar System for iPad, with which it's hoping to make a similarly deep impact.

Check out the video after the break...

Written by New Scientist's cosmology consultant Marcus Chown, and developed by Touchpress in association with publisher Faber & Faber, Solar System opens on an animated visual of the planets and planetary bodies. Pick one out, as you do in The Elements, and you retrieve a raft of visual and textual information. Another variable 3D view lets you watch the planets in their orbits, speeding them up and slowing them down at will.

Reviewers are impressed. The learning potential of the tactile interface was described as "cognitive gold" in this five-minute video review (at Youtube) by Children's Technology Review. "You can touch Saturn's rings, flick through the icy rubble of the Kuiper Belt, or pinch and zoom into Earth to study the continents from above, with or without cloud cover" says USA Today.

"It's a stellar example for other reference app makers on how to best take advantage of the tablet medium."

Like The Elements, a version of Solar System will be made available on the iPhone 4 in the next few months. This not only makes use of that phone's ultra high res "retina" display, but also its built-in

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