Calling Wolfram Alpha a computational knowledge engine surely puts off a lot of people who are mathematically and statistically challenged. I am one of them, so it took me a fair amount of time to get around to using Wolfram Alpha and the way it takes a query and spits out factual data.
If you are still drunk on Google and other traditional ways of doing search, take a sober pill and give Wolfram Alpha a look.
Yes, Wolfram Alpha still doesn’t have a handle on the entire human knowledge, but it has its unique take on answering questions, comparing keywords, and projecting data.
After understanding the true power of Wolfram Alpha, you will appreciate it as one of the most powerful search engines out there. But is Wolfram Alpha too daunting for a layman? Looking at all the mathematical equations and statistical graphs that the search tool drums out, it seems so.
But even an Average Joe like me can sometimes throw everyday problems at it. And come out with answers easy enough to read. So here are ten of those search queries.
Which Website Is More Popular
Instead of individually looking up figures, you can do a quick comparison of websites to see which is more popular. Computational comparisons are a nifty feature of Wolfram Alpha. You can also lookup website data of any web address.
(Wolfram Alpha pulls in the data from Alexa.com’s database. Some SEO experts do have a problem with the way Alexa draws its data however).
My IP Is?
Wolfram Alpha comes with location awareness. So it can used just like an IP tracker. Type in “˜Where Am I?’ and you get your exact geo-located co-ordinates.
Alternatively, you can find the souls behind an IP number or an URL by putting it as a search string.
As The Crow Flies
You can get the direct travel times and the distance between two cities. Average figures are calculated for ships, cars, and airplanes. Other information like local times at both locations is also attached.
Get To Know Your Kissing Cousins
Wolfram Alpha has a Genealogy engine that can trace your family relationships. To make it easier, you also get a “˜tree’ diagram. Just the thing to find out the right introductions at family dos.
What We Speak & Write
Wolfram Alpha has a host of tools or “˜converters’ which are of real use. For instance, you can figure the number of words needed to fill up the right number of pages (and the typing time to finish a book).
Then the search engine extends a “˜cheating’ hand with its puzzle solvers along with the usual dictionary help. Here’s what the Words & Linguistics features can do:
The Time In Timbuktu
You can get the time information of any place, compare local times of several places, and also convert a time in any city to your time.
Following the Date & Time calculations, you can do a host of things like printing out calendars, find out how many days till Christmas, or get the dates of holidays for a given year. The results are as per your location.
Switch On The Weather Channel
Wolfram Alpha can be your personal weather search engine. It covers a host of ways to get specific weather information and forecasts for your city or one of your choice.
Watch What You Are Eating
Wolfram Alpha can be used as an online calorie counter. You can not only get nutritional information on a food, you can also get it for those that end up as packaged brands on our kitchen shelves. Yes, some of the information goes into the actual mineral and molecular composition, but you can pick out the calorie information for the serving and the percentage of daily intake. And export is all as a PDF.
Again, let’s put a food (or beverage) through a comparison. It tells me that drinking vodka would be the quicker way to get the beer belly.
Hit The Gym…Or Climb The Stairs
You know how many calories you are picking up. So use the same search box to find out how many you can burn with a specific activity. There are a few ways you can compute the physical exercises needed to burn the fat.
When you do this calculation, also scroll down and check out the Equivalent Activities section. Mine tells me that I can repair an airplane for two hours or conduct an orchestra for three to burn the same amount of calories.
Color Swatch From A Search Box
We know “˜bittersweet’ as a feeling, but do you know what it looks like? Wolfram Alpha tells us that it’s a color that’s a shade closer to salmon and Indian red. Complementary colors are also given which tell us which colors can be matched. If you are looking for a three color scheme, pick up the swatch on the color triad. Designers can also quickly pick up the hexadecimal and RGB color codes.
From top to bottom, Wolfram Alpha is a search engine. Just like any other search engine, it depends on third party sources for the information and its accuracy. Also, results will hit the target or miss the spot depending on the search query you feed it. It is not a magic oracle but a work in progress. But the work done so far is impressive.
Let us know if and how you are thinking of using Wolfram Alpha every day.