Wired Science: 3 Free iOS Science Apps You're Gonna Want


Just the mere mention of the word is enough to send some people scurrying for safer subjects like politics or religion.

Least you believe that science is the exclusive realm of geeks, math eggheads, SciFi writers and the men and women who love them, please direct your attention to the device you're reading this on.

You've turned it on, swiped, tapped, or moused you way to this screen and are (hopefully) enjoying this article, all of which are the benefits of science.

Free on iTunes

"But Vern," you venture, "I can enjoy the fruits of scientific endeavors without understanding it."

True, but you can enjoy it so much more when you understand the principles behind it, even if it's at the 10,000 foot level.

Take your iPhone for an example. At its core is a chip, a processor, and on that processor are millions of tiny devices that don't move, but still "work". How they work is the stuff of magic.

These microns-wide devices harness electronic energy in the form of charges and potential. Think of charges as a stack of cannon balls and potential is the hill they sit on. Take a cannon ball and let it roll down the hill and you have work. The slope of the hill, among other things, determine how fast the cannon ball moves, or how much work is accomplished.

Now we have millions of tiny hills with even tinier cannon balls rolling about on the processor inside your iPhone, and all of that work produces the ability to read this article. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it, but doesn't that make using your phone a wee it more enjoyable?

Thankfully you don't have to run the risk of data induce encephalitis to enjoy science, you just have to find a way to keep up with science related topics and in a way that's easy and, dare I say, enjoyable. How?

I'm glad you asked because that's my focus in this week's Free on iTunes. So, lets get to it.

Science Today [3.9MB, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: California Academy of Sciences]

Science today

Science isn't boring. Want proof? Take a look a newspaper and...wait, there's hardly any science related news in a regular newspaper. Which is a shame because science related news happens daily and we need to know about it. And the easiest way to keep up with egghead news is with Science Today, a news app offered up by the California Academy of Sciences dedicated strictly to all things scientific.

Science todayScience Today offers category filters and more

Science Today is like any news app at its core so you'll get the standard news app setup, articles listed with the latest at the top, great photos, and category filters. There are videos as well.

What's nice about Science Today is that the articles are not replete with geek-speak, but are presented in terms us mere mortals can understand. I count that as a good thing.

If you have a hankering for science related news then check out Science Today.

Dinosaurs: American Museum of Natural History [89.6 MB, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 3.1.3 or later, Maker: American Museum of Natural History]


History museums are definitely nerdish environs, who else would want to spend time around a bunch of dusty, old petrified bones?

Well, if those bones are those of a T-Rex then I do, along with millions of other folks who find anything related to dinosaurs fascinating. If you're one of those peeps then grab the Dinosaurs: American Museum of Natural History app and be prepared to get your dinosaur fix sated.

DinosaursExpand the collage to reveal dino pix and info.

The app opens with a headshot of a T-Rex skull full of dagger-like teeth. That photo then dissolves into a collage of hundreds of tiny dino-related pix. Tab or expand the collage to get a closer look at these photos. If you see something that interests you double-tap it and it expands to reveal the full photo and associated description which you can read or post comments to or share via email with others.

There are related stories to read as well, all alphabetically listed.

If you or someone you know are into giant flesh eating reptiles then this is the app you want.

Note that the iPad version will cost you two bucks.

Pocket Penguins [31.8MB, all iOS devices capable of running iOS 4.3 or later, Maker: California Academy of Sciences]

Pocket PenguinsBiologist prepares to feed peguins. Awww!

Ok, a show of hand, please. Who doesn't think penguins are cute? Anyone?

Of course the little waddling flightless birds are cute. So cute, in fact, that the California Academy of Sciences has created an app that lets you check out their live African penguins exhibit any time you want.

Pocket PenguinsPeguins zipping around underwater! Awwww!

Pocket Penguins is a webcam fed app lets you see these cute critters on land and underwater where they zip and zoom about like living torpedoes.

As if that weren't enough, you can tap the Biologist tab and watch as staff biologist feed and lecture about their charges.

That's it. There's nothing more to the app, but there doesn't need to be. Pocket Penguins in a must have app for those times when you really need a cute fix.

And that's a wrap for this week, but there's more freebie goodness to be had. This week's Free App of the Week is Mini Ninjas, a cute ninja fighting game that's bound to please. If you want free music then grab Phantogram's free Single of the Week, Nothing But Trouble.

NOW, that's a wrap.