Atom in a Box HD
By Dauger Research, Inc.
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Rewritten from scratch for the iPad, Atom in a Box HD is an aid for visualizing the Hydrogen atomic orbitals, the three-dimensional states that the electron occupies in Hydrogen, a prime and otherwise unwieldy example of Quantum Mechanics. It interactively shows, in an immersive environment, what the Hydrogen atom "looks" like. Unique among visualizations of Quantum Mechanics, it uses highly optimized code to perform 3D volumetric raytracing through the electron wavefunction's probability density and presents its results in real-time. It animates and mathematically describes all 2109 eigenstates up to the n=18 energy level. The app links to an online FAQ (see the Support link), and the atom rotates with the accelerometer and magnetometer. The bottom line is: Explore! The user are meant to explore all aspects of the atom, what it is and what it can do.
What's New in Version 1.0.2
Compatibility with iOS multitasking, pausing all internal processing
"Drift" switch in a larger sliding settings panel and implementation for cards
Corner user-interface elements dim after inactivity and restore when tapped
Changes to the display of the wavefunction's terms
- uses scientific notation when needed
- prevents unnecessarily large terms
- reduces, where the numerics allows, to their smallest integer values
a good teaching tool, but not yet great
To disclose first, for many years I've used the mac version of atom in a box as a teaching tool. It is excellent -- unparalleled. For the development of chemistry and bonding, having the ability to set up hybrid orbitals (superposition in physics lingo) is incredibly helpful. Regretfully, this is missing in the ipad version. I would have contacted the developer directly, but their web pages provide no direct support information. The mac version also gives the opportunity to slice through wave functions showing 2D projections -- also very helpful but lacking here. And finally, while the floating buttons on the ipad version are cute at first, they become annoying when trying explain to a student. Fixed vs floating buttons should be an option. Updating the ipad HD version to function more like the mac version (that's been around for 10+ years) would make this a real five star app. As it currently is, the app shows colorful orbitals, but that's about it.
Graphics great, the rest is lacking
Atom in a box gives great images and some nice tools for altering the appearance of orbitals, much as it did as a desktop/laptop app years ago. Since I have migrated to the use of my iPad for teaching Freshman chemistry, I was pleased to see that I could show these images again. However, the migration to the iPad didn't come at all seamlessly with respect to this platform. If you want to show the radial distribution functions, for example, you can't zoom by pinching and stretching - you live with what is shown. No coordinate systems can be added to the images. First-year chemistry students just aren't going to understand complex wavefunctions, but there is no way to take real linear combinations to show px and py (not so bad, of course, since they look just like pz). Real d orbitals other than d0 would be nice though.
Great but it needs more features!!!
This app is amazing. The particles and orbitals are properly shown when probability and the idea of "wavicles" are put into account. I believe that a more standard should also be included that bridges the gap. This would be ideal for people that are new to quantum mechanics and particle physics.