Wonders of Geology: An Aerial View of America’s Mountains (iPad App Review)

National Geographic Wonders of Geology on iPad
The only rock that I ever thought was entertaining was the loud, distorted guitar variety. Mind you, the hard candy type isn’t too bad either. The prospect of a book on the grey and brown lumps in the ground is assured to fossilise anyone’s fun faculties – except geography teachers, of course. Or so I thought…

Whilst most print publishers languish behind, National Geographic has been at the forefront of electronic publishing. Famed for its breath-taking photography, the National Geographic Society already has a showcase of acclaimed mobile games and applications. Mikaya Digital are hot on their heels and are now also making a dignified attempt to breathe digital life into what’s often considered the dullest of all scientific disciplines: geology.

Wonders of Geology is an interactive eBook from the renowned geologist and photographer Michael Collier. It’s a coffee table book for the digital generation and boasts eye-wateringly good photography. A guided tour of beautiful mountainous scenery is narrated by Collier himself, making for a personable and pleasantly accessible experience. Gazing upon high resolution images of some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, even geology ignoramuses like me can’t help but be drawn in by the man’s passion.

Text and photos are interspersed with informative animations as the eBook journeys the length and breadth of the USA. Explanations of the genesis of rock formations are concise, straightforward and wholly pain-free. The app is well-produced and navigation between pages and chapters is intuitive. Each photograph can also be viewed on a map of the USA and, helpfully, sound can be turned off for the times you just want to ogle at the pictures.

Retailing at £8.99/$12.99 (or the equivalent in other currencies), it’s at the pricier end of the app market. It won’t take longer than two or three hours to get through in one sitting, so it might be difficult to justify the initial cost. That said, it’s half the price of the hardback book on which it is based (Over the Mountains: An Aerial View of Geology) and, unlike many other apps you may choose to buy (like those stupid dubious talking-animal games), Wonders of Geology will be something you find yourself returning to over and over.

Boring it isn’t: I’ll certainly never look at a rock in the same way again.

5/5 Stars

This review featured in Issue Four of Guru Magazine: Read the full magazine here – free of charge.

Wonders of Geology: An Aerial View of America’s Mountains (iPad App)

Mikaya Digital
Price: $12.99 (USD), £8.99 (GBP)
Available from iTunes App Store

Article by Stuart Farrimond

February 1, 2012

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .

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