I’ve been playing with the new Wolfram Alpha “computational knowledge engine” and I think one of the best terms to describe it is straight out of the 1960s: “mind blowing”.
Wolfram Alpha is not about searching for web pages (Google is still pretty good at that) but, rather, about getting answers to numerical questions, computed on demand from vast amounts of curated data plus algorithms.
For example, Wolfram Alpha can:
- perform mathematical, financial or scientific calculations
- analyze geographical or statistical data
- provide a summary of events on a particular date, including the weather (automatically defaulted to your current location based on IP address)
- tell you all the words that will fit in that crossword puzzle that’s had you stumped all day
- tell you how the height of Mt Everest compares with the length of the Golden Gate Bridge [see screenshot]
It also has an astonishingly ability to deliver related chunks of interesting information including nicely formatted tables and graphs.
I recommend watching Stephen Wolfram’s complete introductory video (it’s about 13 minutes and takes a while to load).