Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another in a series of brief tests of Wolfram Alpha

If you've spent the last couple of years behind a few inches of lead, protecting you from the nerd-radiation of the Wolfram|alpha launch,well, you should read up on it.  It claims to be, not a search engine, but something smarter, a compendium of systematic data (temperature records, physical constants, business data, you name it), and the algorithms necessary to process that info.

I've been disappointed thus far.  I tried another reasonable-seeming query today: "kinetic energy of a ring with mass 1 kg and radius 1m rotating at 100 rpm"

(If you're wondering, I was hanging out by a centrifuge, which just begged the question, ya know?)

And what did Alpha have to say? "and (English word)"

It recognized the word "and" as English. That's it.

The answer didn't show up until the 8th hit in google's results, but there it was,

   E = 0.5 * I * ω
   I = m r2

etc etc.  Granted, I still have to do the math, but at least it's something.

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