ARCHIVE: October 2011
October 28, 2011– 1

With Halloween around the corner, everyone’s thinking about costumes, trick-or-treating, and jack-o’-lantern carving and figuring out what to do with a 1,818 pound pumpkin. While the latter might only be true for the owners of this year’s largest pumpkin, Wolfram|Alpha has something for everyone this Halloween. The nearly one-ton squash belongs to a farmer from Quebec, Canada. Besides carving it into a giant jack-o’-lantern, the next best thing to do with that much pumpkin is make enough pumpkin pie for a small town. A common recipe for a pumpkin pie calls for two cups of pumpkin. Using Wolfram|Alpha, we find that 1,818 pounds of pumpkin will allow us to make 3,550 pumpkin pies.

Hopefully you are in a giving mood, so you can cut each pie into eight slices to come up with just enough to share with the entire town of Allen Park, Michigan. With 28,210 people in Allen Park and 28,400 slices of pie, you’re still left with 190 slices to put in the freezer for later. More »

October 25, 2011– 0

The United Nations (UN) was officially founded 66 years ago this week, bringing together “peace-loving states” (as the Charter of the UN described them) to cooperate on issues of international law, economic and social development, human rights, and other matters of critical importance to global human development. From the time it launched, Wolfram|Alpha has relied on a wide variety of datasets provided by various UN organizations—and as recent blog posts indicate, these agencies remain an important source of information for international data. More »

October 21, 2011– 3

We’ve blogged before about Wolfram|Alpha’s powerful relocation calculator, which has turned out to be one of our more popular—and practical—features. Our last round of enhancements added information about broad topics like population, home sale prices, unemployment rates, and more; now we’ve added more detail to the core cost-of-living categories, so you can see how prices of specific retail goods and services differ among US cities and metropolitan areas. More »

October 18, 2011– 3

We’ve blogged before about international food consumption data in Wolfram|Alpha, and queries about this data have proved to be a favorite among our users, with good reason: it’s fascinating to explore the world’s food supply and to visualize trends in consumption. In an attempt to fill in a more complete picture of global agricultural trends, we’ve added more data from the FAO—this time covering food production, harvest, and crop yields around the world. More »

October 13, 2011– 0

We here at Wolfram|Alpha are constantly trying to improve the user experience by fine-tuning our algorithms and making our functionality in every domain more versatile and flexible. We are pleased to announce that we have made useful upgrades to chemistry functionality in Wolfram|Alpha, especially in the domain of solution chemistry. We have new data that enables you to quickly determine whether a given set of solvents are miscible in each other or not: “Is acetone miscible in benzene?” You also could ask for the list of liquids that are miscible in a given solvent: “What solvents are miscible in acetone?” We are improving our coverage of this area, with new data being added regularly.

What solvents are miscible in acetone More »

October 6, 2011– 23

I’m so sad this evening—as millions are—to hear of Steve Jobs’s death. Scattered over the last quarter century, I learned much from Steve Jobs, and was proud to consider him a friend. And indeed, he contributed in various ways to all three of my major life projects so far: Mathematica, A New Kind of Science and Wolfram|Alpha.
More »

October 3, 2011– 7

As most Wolfram|Alpha blog readers know, the engine behind the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine is Wolfram Research’s powerful mathematics and computation software, Mathematica. Ironically, while Wolfram|Alpha contains thousands of datasets on diverse and sundry subject areas, until very recently, its computable knowledge of the Mathematica language itself has been somewhat limited. More »