SPUG: WolframAlpha - a great GUI and API for computing everyday knowledge

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRWolf at att.net
Thu Mar 4 12:35:33 PST 2010

Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica fame) has created  
www.WolframAlpha.com, an effort to create a GUI and API "to make all  
systematic knowledge immediately computable by everyone".

  - Of course, simple stuff is simple: 2 * 3 ^ 4:  http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%202%20*%203%20 

  - Medium stuff is beautiful: plot sin x cos y: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=plot+sin+x+cos+y

It gets almost ridiculously fun, helpful, and useful...

  - Generate a CAPTCHA: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=CAPTCHA+Wolfram+Alpha
  - Compare screen resolutions: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=VGA%2C+SVGA%2C+SXGA%2C+QXGA%2C+WXGA
  - Compare GDP of 3 countries: gdp france, england, australia: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=gdp%20france%2C%20england%2C%20australia
  - Pick an afternoon snack: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=10+peanut+M%26Ms%2C+2+slices+of+swiss+cheese%2C+1+apple

There are *loads* of information sources stashed in there in realms  
that folks like you would be interested in: linguistics, material  
science, units & measures, computer systems, materials, chemistry,  
life science.

  - http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/

It's rich.  Very rich, in deed....

In fact, digging around in the siesmology data, I accidently found out  
about the Chile earthquake (while looking for Haiti) before it hit  
print, and when there was only 1 article in the Google cache.

  - earthquakes 2010 with magnitude > 6.0: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=earthquakes+2010+with+magnitude+%3E+6.0

Have fun.  Report back with your favorite find.


P.S.  I haven't even looked at the API, but imagine how cool that  
could be mashed up....

P.P.S.  There's also an iPhone app.  Great for resolving "bar bets" of  
the quantatative kind, like why is Tungsten (think W - Wolfram) is a  
better incandescent filament than copper or iron
  - http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=tungston%2C+copper%2C+iron

Michael R. Wolf
     All mammals learn by playing!
         MichaelRWolf at att.net

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