Who doesn’t like free? And who doesn’t like great iPad apps? When the two come together it’s good stuff. With that in mind, we’d like to share our Best Free iPad App of the Week here every weekend.
This week’s pick is Creatures of Light, from the American Museum of Natural History.
This companion app for the popular new exhibition Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence offers a close look at some of the extraordinary organisms that produce light. Enjoy interactive animations, photo galleries, and videos that reveal the beauty of this amazing natural phenomenon, how it works, and how scientists study it. Each chapter of the app, which is adapted from the iPad content featured throughout the exhibition gallery, is set to a symphonic soundtrack composed exclusively for Creatures of Light.
It’s an app full of superb images and fascinating information on bioluminescence and many of the creatures and organisms that glow and light up due to it.
The app is divided into these main sections:
The Exhibition – a quick overview of and tour around the Creatures of Light exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History – it’s running until January of 2013.
Enchanted Evening – this one is all about fireflies – a kid-pleaser if ever there was one. It’s great that this section goes into detail on how fireflies produce their light – and, as with all the sections, makes it easy to understand.
Light on Land – Bioluminescence is uncommon on land – which makes it seem magical when we see it, scattered in unexpected places around the world
A Sparkling Sea – plankton lighting up the sea, dinoflagellates glowing in the surf and more. Just as a sidenote, I feel pretty confident this is the first time I’ve used the word dinoflagellates on this site or anywhere else.
Altered Light – Fluorescence and some of the sea creatures that provide awesome examples of it.
The Deep Ocean – A world of darkness where creatures have adapted and nearly all are bioluminescent.
The classical music that plays in the background is well chosen and enhances the experience – and of course it can be toggled on and off as you like.
The app has some very good videos throughout its sections as well. Two favorites for me are one of a dolphin swimming in the blue light of glowing dinoflagellates and one of a Crystal Jelly.
Many of the pages offer interactive images that let you tap in various highlighted areas to see more details – and slider controlled images that show a process or sequence of events involved in bioluminescence.
You also get a wealth of information on some of the leading scientists in this field and a good look at their experiments and studies on the subject.
My one complaint about the app is that it could be a much nicer experience on the new iPad 3 if it was updated for the retina display. I hope and expect that will come along soon in an update to the app.
This is an outstanding app regardless of whether you’re using it as a primer prior to a visit to the exhibition or just as a general reference app for family and kids if you’re not able to go the exhibition.
Here’s an App Store link for Creatures of Light.
If you’re after more great free iPad apps, be sure to check out our previous choices for Best Free iPad of the Week.