I'm sure some of you will still remember the periodic table from school (or university, if there are any chemists among us). If your experience with the periodic table was anything like mine, you may also remember the minuscule font that one would have to comb through for ages before finding what it was one was looking for. The idea behind the Android app Merck PSE HD (i.e. Periodic table of the elements) is to put an end to all the squinting and frustrated searching, as well as provide users with lots of extra information.
Read on, the elements await!
Features & Use
Test device: HTC Desire
Mods: Root, CM7 Custom ROM
When you first start up Merck PSE HD the Merck logo will appear briefly before the periodic table pops up. Don't be fooled into thinking that the only thing this app can do is display the periodic table however—one click on one of the elements will prove you wrong! A window displaying more information about the element you clicked on will open up: the name of the element; its classification (e.g. Metalloid); its position (group number) and its relative atomic mass (e.g. “1,00794”). Without wanting to sound like a cheesy home shopping show host, let me just say 'and there's even more, folks'!
Click on the pop-up again and it will spin around a reveal even more information: General information: click on this to see when an element was first discovered and what its unique properties are. Basic information: a table displays more of the element's properties (relative atomic mass, melting point, state of aggregation, density, oxidation value, radius, etc.) Discoverer: A brief biography of the scientist who first discovered the element. Image: of the element, not the discoverer. Analysis products: a link to other Merck products.
Don't shoot me for saying this, but there's still more to come! There's a small button labeled 'M' on the top left which serves as the portal for accessing the menu. It harbours the following functions: Search: a simple search tool that helps you find elements. As soon as you enter one letter the search is filtered to the elements that begin with that letter. The periodic table is displayed the right of the search results, and the elements that correspond with your search term are highlighted. Classification: displays elements that correspond to specific search criteria, e.g. properties, classifications and group, or else highlight those elements that have the mass fraction of the geosphere that you are looking for. Atomic properties: this will display the periodic table graphically and according to category. 'Atomic radius graphic' and 'Ionisation energy' are displayed as bar diagrams whereas other categories (such as 'Atomic radius', 'Electronegativity' and 'Relative atomic mass') are displayed in different colours or 'coloured-in' periodic systems. Check out the screen shots to get a better idea. Condition of aggregation: this option comes with a scroll bar that allows you to change the temperature. The periodic table in the right then displays the elements in their current condition of aggregation (colour coded). For instance, when iron is solid it is shown as green and when it is liquid it is displayed as navy blue. Property list of precedence: all chemical elements, their properties and their descriptions are displayed in a table. Discovery: another scroll bar is displayed on the left, this one lets you select a year. After you've made your choice all the elements that had been discovered by that year are highlighted in colour. Click on 'Discoverer' if you want a picture of the scientist who first discovered an element to be displayed rather than an image of the element itself. The same goes for the year in which an element was first discovered. Molar mass calculator: I found this function to be especially useful. It lets you calculate how many grams per molar a molecule has. Which is important if you are doing stoichiometric calculations. The app also displays the molecule's percental composition. Glossary: the final option is the glossary in which you can look up technical terms. The explanations are brief and to the point, meaning that everyone will get the gist of whatever term you wanted to look up.
Merck PSE HD has a lot to offer, as you no doubt have ascertained by now. Regardless of who is using this app (student, teacher, professor, amateur chemists), everyone will be able to take something away from it and find the information they are looking for.
The UI is nicely designed and the graphs are easy to understand. If you have anything at all to do with chemistry we recommend giving this app a go. Too bad smartphones aren't allowed in exam situations!
Screen & Controls
Merck PSE HD's UI is very easy to use and its animations are quite nice. It's too bad there isn't a brief intro for first time users, although I must admit that navigating through the app is fairly easy. However, it did take me a bit before I found the menu button.
Speed & Stability
Merck PSE HD didn't crash or lag at all during our test runs. The animations run smoothly for the most bit, though there were a few lurches here and there. This had no effect on the app's speed, however.
Merck PSE HD can be downloaded free of charge from the Android Market as well as the App Center.
Let me also mention that the app doesn't require any authorizations whatsoever, hallelujah! A well deserved five star rating.