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Wolfram Alpha, Find the Data!

May 19, 2009

Stephen Wolfram produced Mathematica and now his new analytic web search, Wolfram Alpha, is available for testing. It provides information and data on topics. Fifteen years ago we had databases that allowed students to search geographic, economic or weather data on their computer. Today, Wolfram/Alpha will attempt to answer those questions on the web, from any computer.

Remember, it's just the beginning and you might get messages straight from 2001: A Space Odyssey. "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid, I can't do that...." Don't let that stop you, keep experimenting!

Begin with the screencast introduction by Stephen and then start experimenting.

Try the obvious first, start with your first name.
If you want to compare two names, just type the two names and you'll begin to see how to construct a search that compares two things.
Moving onto weather type Springfield. It assumes I want Springfield, Illinois and provides population, and weather. If you want additional selections, there's more for another city or history for additional weather data.

Temperature Springfield Illinois and you can get a graph of temperature trends for 15 years.
What about food. I typed M&M Candy and I have information on food and nutrition. Try them all, McDonald hamburger, fries and carrot.

Then I typed Dr. Pepper I got total calories of 41 and a note about average of different types of carbonated beverages. Guess we're back to discussions on evaluating information on the web or from a search.

caffeine Dr. Pepper coffee provides a comparison of caffeine values.

Type largest building and you receive comparisons by height and floors.

Type in any country name and there's lots of information. Use that information to continue to compare and drill down. For example
median age United States Germany

There's no doubt this is the beginning. Even Google had a beginning. I remember when Altavista was better!

What to keep Wolfram|Alpha at your finger tips? Download a widget or add it as a gadget to your iGoogle.

The Wordle Banner from Images created by the Wordle.net web application are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.