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Napenda kuwataarifu kuwa blogu hii inapumzishwa rasmi na tovuti mpya imezaliwa kwa jina www.wavuti.com

This is to inform you that this blog has been retired. A new website to take her place is up and running at www.wavuti.com

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TweetThis! Some interesting stuff found with WolframAlpha

A few days a go, there was a post in this blog (actually a copy & paste news) about WolframAlpha, you may click here to read the post. Well, since then, there have been some developments and as it was mentioned that WolframAlpha would launch sometimes in May, well, it really did (see my next post with the screen cast).

WolframAlpha is a new search engine plus a new way of searching the Internet. With it, you can type in a word/query or words/queries and get a return page full of all kinds of information imaginable. For example, ask WolframAlpha the temperature of a certain city and go beyond that question, ask it specifically what the temperature of that city was in a certain year or date (as in day/month/year) and it will give you an answer (there are some limitations) OR ask, what nutritional ingredients you will get from a cup of orange juice OR you can ask a GDP of a certain country. You may also type in a name of a person and it will tell you the popularity of that name across the globe and even stipulate it age wise in percentage of people with that name, even better, it can compare two names eg. type in the name Julieth and tell it to compare with Lina and it will do exactly that. You can even compare sex specific names, like Lilian vs Antony (sorry French people, I know some of you have male Lilian - no offense - it is as with the case of Hillary, Hilary, Andrea etc). Well, for curiosity I typed in Lucifer and Satan and apparently, WolframAlpha doesn't know who that is, it only associates the names with adverb 'lucifer' and math calculations of Tan, Sin, Cos and all that good Math stuff. How about typing in 'Jesus'? well, see the screenshot below.

Besides names, what else is interesting with WolframAlpha search... yes, You can ask it some detailed and tough mathematics questions or a formula and it will give you the answers, even calculus... or interestingly, you can ask Wolframalpha the position of a certain satellite or planet and it will tell you the present location in degrees and direction.

Note that WolframAlpha is still in it's infancy so there is no much information like you will find in Google or Wikipedia, for example, out of curiosity I typed in my blog name 'nukta77' and it point blankly told me that - you are nobody (literally)- well, for something that is not yet included in their database, this it offers some suggestions and this is what I got (seriously) when I typed my blog name: Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input.Tips for good results » but I kinda expected that so I wasn't really surprised.

What left me wondering as to when they will update their information is when I asked it this question, 'Who was the president of Tanzania in 1977?' the answer surprised me (see the image below). I then tried to twist the question a little bit by deleting some words but still, the answer was the same, so I started punching in different numbers, and the one that gave me a correct answer was the year 1963, surprisingly, in this correct return, WolframAlpha knows for fact that the president of Tanzania was Julius K. Nyerere and that he held that position for 23 years from 1962 until 1985, now how comes when I typed in 'president of Tanzania 1984' it said that the president was Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume? - hmm, I guess my computer was playing tricks with me or how did the history change so fast and I am not that old (well, I lied, I am old, sort of...), ... or history has changed?... oh, yeah, I hear some saying that 'there was no concentration camps, it's a myth, nor Jews were massacred' you know, 'nobody went to the moon' 'who cares what Neil Armstrong is? or was it a person?' eiy - that is the state of the world in which we live - bah.

So, hopefully as days goes by, their store will be filled with more and more relevant and real information.

As for now, it may mislead and give you wrong data, treat it as you would Wikipedia. Do not use it as a teaching tool for children yet.

See some of the interesting things WolframAlpha can do by watching their Screencast/IntroducingWolframAlpha and you can also watch the Launch Video (1hr 36mins) here (click).

And here are a couple of shots from a number of searches I did a few minutes ago (click individual photo to enlarge):

WolframAlpha + Jesus

WolframAlpha + Kilimanjaro

WolframAlpha + Lilian vs Antony

WolframAlpha + President of Tanzania 1963

WolframAlpha + President of Tanzania 1964

WolframAlpha + President of Tanzania 1977

WolframAlpha + Tanzania

Ok now, it's your turn,
Happy Wolframing - or WolframAlphaeing?!

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