I used to think that Google was a little scary. Perhaps I’ve watched too many science fiction movies, but the idea that you can ask a computer anything and it gives you an answer seems a little … frightening. But I could at least take solace that a search engine does not understand what it is looking up.
Last week I discovered Wolfram Alpha, and I am convinced that it is the name of the coming metal overlord. Wolfram Alpha does not search for websites to answer your questions, it simply answers them, putting out simple, concrete facts. Search for 2+2 and it gives you 4, ask it what is the 23rd most populous nation, and it finds that too. Not a website that answers it, not a Wikipedia entry—an actual answer.
I started by searching for Franklin Roosevelt. It gave me a single photo, dates, and places of birth and death, a timeline and half a dozen of his most notable accomplishments. Not enough to write a report, but enough to put him into context at a glance.
But the real fun occurs when you type in math and science based questions, or statistical data. Type in your name and it tells you how common it is, and when it peaked in popularity. Ask it what the 23rd most populous country is, and it will tell you it is Italy. When I use this website I feel like I am amazed and terrified at the same time, like riding a roller coaster.
Some fun searches could include:
- How old was George Washington when he died?
- Who was the 5th king of Spain?
If your imagination limits you, try going here.