New Research Tool

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a new tool that could help those of us who research things long past. is touted by some as the biggest challenger Google has faced. Others point out that it isn’t a search engine of the Google sort. WolframAlpha (W/A) is the brainchild of Steven Wolfram, founder of Wolfram Research, the company that brings us Mathematica. Not surprisingly, W/A uses Mathematica as its engine “…to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.” W/A allows users to type in English language questions and receive answers reminiscent of the way computer interfaces in 1950s move computers.

Thinking this might be a useful tool for researching such things as the weather when Carlisle Indian School students arrived, I gave it a try. First, I threw it a softball by asking, “USA gross national product 1912.” W/A’s response was “(no data available).) Next, I tried “weather Carlisle, PA October 1879.” W/A returned “(no weather data available for October 1879).” Knowing that weather data is available for Philadelphia, I changed Carlisle to Philadelphia but got the same result. It seems that Wolfram hasn’t loaded all of the weather data that is available as of yet. Now for something simpler.

I entered “college football scoring record 1912” and confused W/A. It responded, “Wolfram\Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.” W/A seems to have some information for the NFL and major league baseball but is unaware of college sports. In the same box that tells us W/A is confused, they ask for experts. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Tex Noel, and David DeLasses.

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