Find out how the universe works with this entertaining app

Puzzled by relativity? Confused by gravity? Work it all out with Stephen Hawking's Snapshots of the Universe.

The universe, eh? What's that all about? If you've ever wondered how it all works but found all the available literature a little too impenetrable and those Brian Cox programs a shade too heavy on the gazing wistfully at the sky stuff, here's Snapshots of the Universe, an app that makes it a bit easier to get your head around some of the more difficult aspects of cosmology.

It's based on the work and writings of Stephen Hawking (but don't let that put you off if you've ever attempted to read A Brief History of Time), and it explains eight of the principles that control the universe through some simple experiments.

So if you're having trouble getting your head round the bonkers notion that time doesn't work the same everywhere in the universe, you can have a play with the Twins Paradox and see what happens if one twin goes off on a trip to space at a percentage of light speed while the other stays home. And if you still don't get why the twin who stays home ages a lot more than the one who gets to go on a rocket, the app includes detailed explanations of the science behind it all.

Presented in a delightful cut-out style - we love the little cartoon Stephen Hawking - Snapshots of the Universe is really cleverly pitched to appeal to children and adults alike. The experiments are a great way to get a handle on some quite tricky concepts - we particularly enjoyed the one where you have to build a solar system and put a set of planets in orbit around the sun so that they don't crash into each other – and once you've grasped the basics, the more in-depth explanatory text will help you understand what's going on more fully.

Key info

  • Works with: iPad
  • Price: $4.99/£2.99
  • Developer: Random House Digital
  • Version: 1.0
  • App size: 435MB
  • Age rating: 9+

Words: Jim McCauley

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