Smartphone Apps Illuminate Science of Space, Earth and Sea

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The school year is back in full swing and students are studying a variety of scientific topics, from biology, to astronomy to chemistry. Using smartphones and tablets, apps are helping illuminate a wide range of sciences for students, researchers and enthusiasts alike.

To provide lessons in astronomy, the Sky Map app uses GPS and the Android accelerometer to project an augmented reality of the night sky. In addition to showing constellations, stars, and planets above, Google’s search capabilities will help find a particular celestial body and a universe of information about it.
Vibrometer, on the other hand, aids student seismologists by using the phone’s sensors to measure a real earthquake, a simulated temblor for research or any other vibration. An especially interesting feature of this app is the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale (MMI), which is a key measurement in earthquake research.

Smartphones and tablets with a barometric sensor can run the Barometer HD app to make meteorology fun. Users see real-time barometric pressure in various scientific units to help predict the weather. The app also indicates the altitude Standard Temperature and Pressure.

For chemistry-lovers, the NOVA Elements app includes a full two-hour video of NOVA's Hunting the Elements. The app also features an interactive periodic table of elements to learn fun facts about every element from hydrogen to ununoctium.

When it comes to biology, Frog Dissection is a great alternative to cutting up an actual frog on a lab table. The realistic app mimics the actual procedure using step-by-step instructions, 3D imagery and virtual dissection tools.

For something a little more intimidating than frogs, the Expedition White Shark app from the Marine Conservation Science Institute includes numerous features, including the ability for users to track satellite-tagged great whites in real-time as they swim the seas. There is also a “meet our sharks” section that provides photos and data on all of the tagged sharks.

With a smartphone or tablet in hand, the world of science is only a few taps away.

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