View a flea as seen by Robert Hooke as he gazed down his 17th century microscope.
Or take in the sights and sounds inside Apollo 10 Command Module in 1969, which paved the way for the first moon landing two months later by Apollo 11.
These historic events and the new worlds they opened up can be re-lived with the help of a new “super app”.
The Science Museum has created an app for iPads in partnership with west London developer Touch Press that allows users to experience the museum “virtually”.
As well as featuring nearly 90 objects from the Science Museum itself, Journeys of Invention also has archive high-res visuals, audio and written material not available in the museum to enhance the artefacts.
So far nearly 200,000 people have downloaded the app, which is thought to be the first of its kind by an international museum.
It is hoped that it will lead the way for using technology to create more virtual experiences both for tablets and mobiles.
The app has 14 interactive “journeys” through the exhibits which take on different scientific themes such as “mass production”, “everyday” and “shows and spectacles”.
For each object there is explanatory text, sounds, images and videos to accompany it and explain the context or to help the user relive the moment for themselves.
It even allows you to encode and send messages on Twitter, Facebook and email from a World War II Enigma Machine. Users can even conduct their own microwave “experiments” using the app which allows you to see what happens when you put either soap, egg or a CD inside it. Dr Andrew Nahum, the Science Museum’s lead curator, said: “Journeys of invention are at once awe-inspiring and intimate.
“It is like having a curator take you on a series of guided tours through some of the most magnificent objects in our collection, with each journey bringing to life the story of a key scientific idea.” Theo Gray, chief creative officer at Touch Press, said: “Science is a journey of discovery through time and space, and so is this app.
“It shows you the connections between 80 of the most fascinating objects in one of the world’s great science museums, providing enlightenment and amusement in equal measure.”
Hi-res journey in time
At the touch of an iPad Mini screen, I am transported through time into the inside of the Apollo 10 Command Module.
My first “journey” through science has begun. Images of the objects users can explore are laid out on the Journeys of Invention homepage like a flow-diagram.
Moving 360 degrees around the space by touching the screen, high resolution photography allows me to look around the module in a way that visitors to the Science Museum cannot. The photography is in such detail that I can zoom closer and even see the “lift” instruction written on the seatbelts and see the same view that the astronauts would have seen during their 1969 mission.
It will certainly bring dry facts and figures to life. Excitingly, the app also shows how technology can be used to bring inanimate objects to life in the context of the museum and must surely sound the death knell of the audio guidebook.