New Research Tool

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a new tool that could help those of us who research things long past. WolframAlpha.com 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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