Monday, May 25, 2009

Fun With Wolfram Alpha

My apologies for not being the best, and certainly not the most diverse blogger of late. But it turns out that running a second blog, posting for another one, the Great Firewall of China, and you know, real life, are rather large drains on a person.

Another reason for my detachment from this bit of space has been my newest distraction, a wonderful website called Wolfram Alpha. This website if part of a very ambitious project to make the sum of human knowledge immediately computable. Sort of like Wikipedia for the math geek, which makes it very clearly in my territory.

This site has dozens of features, all you have to do is type in any of their many types of inputs, including (but certainly not limited to) measurements, musical notes, geography, colours, anagrams, dietary reference, and of course good old fashion mathematical functions.

After putting in some different inputs I learned the following things about myself:

-My height, 5'10", is approximately equal to 0.97 fathoms, the length of DNA strands of the human genome, and the distance that light can travel in 5.9 nanoseconds.

-My birthday, December 30, 1982, is day number 2 455 334 on the Julian Calendar, it had 9 hours and 18 minutes of daylight in New York, and is 9643 days ago...I know, I don't look a day over 8000, but that's besides the point.

- Currently AIG has a stock value of $1.70 while Freddie Mac has one of $0.79. In the past five years they have had a return of -97.64% and -98.64%, respectively. Economic, what now?

- Swine Flu has 12 107 cases with 87 deaths worldwide

-My first name is ranked 502nd in the United States, with most people who share my name in their 40s and 50s, also there are an estimated 93 538 people who share the name in the US. Making my name 1 out of 2502. Not quite making me the 1 in a million that I had hoped.

-My last name, by contrast, would be ranked 191st if used as a first name, with 267 546 people in the US expected to have that as a first name. That's right my last name is almost three times more common as a first name than my own first name. Can't say that I'm the slightest bit surprised by that fact.

- In world rankings, Canada is ranked 2nd in land mass, 36th in population, 224th in population density, 136th in population growth, 8th in life expentancy, 23rd in median age, 9th in GDP, and the top three languages are English, French, and Plautdietsch. I have no idea what that third one is.

-Toronto (the closest major city to my hometown) and Suzhou (where I'm living now) are 11 460 km apart, with Toronto having an elevation of 85m higher.

-The title of this blog, is sadly not a recognized word, when I entered glen_______ into the crossword feature, I got no recognizable words.

- When asked "How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?", it said "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind (according to Bob Dylan)". Hard to argue with that one.

- However, it does not know the answer to "How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar?" or "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?". I guess the developers need to word on that one.

While they need to get to work on answering those last two questions, there is still a lot of fun to be had, and a lot of useless junk to learn. Go ahead and give it a try!

Until next time,



Anonymous said...

I have to admit I've been seeing mentions of Wolfram Alpha but didn't really "grasp" it until now.

I'm afraid it would be a big-time time suck for me!

Elvina said...

Wow... whole new level of geekdom. Even for you. ;)

Anonymous said...

When asked "How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?", it said "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind (according to Bob Dylan)".

Really? Funny.

WA is a great tool indeed, a great addition of online arsenals internet users should have. Though I don't find it necessary for most of my daily searches. I don't deal with calculations every day so search engines like and Google will do.

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