ARCHIVE: March 2012
March 29, 2012– 4

We’re constantly expanding Wolfram|Alpha’s knowledge base in small ways. Sometimes we know from the start that a new feature is going to be “blog-worthy,” like pro football stats or live aircraft-tracking data. Lots of other additions are useful, but don’t seem worth crowing about too loudly. We recently added some data on each of the 94 district courts of the US federal court system, and I confess that it seemed like a project in the latter category—but it turned out to reveal some genuinely fascinating bits of information about the justice system in this country.

Most people probably don’t have a natural sense of the jurisdiction of each court—or even how many there are in their state—but an input like “California courts” will give you a summary of key stats about all the district courts in a given state, including a list of the largest cities in each of them. From there, you can click a specific court to see a map of that court’s jurisdiction and detailed information about overall caseloads and judgeships, as well as annual filings for a variety of civil and criminal case types.

California Central District Court More »

March 21, 2012– 0

It’s spring and I am ready for it. In the last few years I have come to love gardening and the general outdoors more so than I ever have in the past. Something about spending time in the warm sunlight, getting your hands dirty, and being in touch with nature is relaxing. I’ve found myself paying more attention to many green things around my yard that I would have previously just dismissed as a “weed.” Now I find that many of these things are not only beneficial, but in some cases edible. We at Wolfram|Alpha recently decided that we needed to beef up our plant coverage to include more than just, primarily, taxonomic information. Wolfram|Alpha now makes use of data from the USDA that includes information, mainly qualitative, that gardeners and botanists might find more useful. More »

March 16, 2012– 1

We’ve posted before about Wolfram|Alpha’s ability to answer questions about US school districts and individual public schools, and you’ve given us a lot of great feedback—and even more requests to expand and enhance our school coverage.

We’ve made a few significant improvements in recent months, including the addition of nearly 30,000 private schools to Wolfram|Alpha’s knowledge base. More »

March 14, 2012– 6

The latest version of our Wolfram|Alpha App for iOS just hit the iTunes App Store, and it comes with some exciting new features! Alongside visual upgrades to weather queries and the addition of links to purchase consumer products directly from Best Buy comes the biggest upgrade to our mobile app yet: using images as input.

Image analysis on iPad

With an in-app purchase of $0.99 comes the ability to use photos from your Camera Roll or pictures taken on the fly and input them directly into Wolfram|Alpha. Wolfram|Alpha can then provide analysis of your photo, add filters, detect features, perform color processing, and apply image effects. More »

March 8, 2012– 1

At about 6pm CST on March 6, there was a very powerful X 5.4 solar flare. This triggered a coronal mass ejection (CME). Indications were that the CME wasn’t squarely directed at Earth, but that a strong glancing blow to the Earth’s magnetosphere was possible. Here’s the data in Wolfram|Alpha for the flare:

Solar flares between March 5 and March 9

There are two X-class flares during this time range. The effects of the first flare hit the Earth on March 7 and was a minor glancing blow, but caused a geomagnetic storm with effects visible in northern latitudes. More »

March 5, 2012– 7

In continuing our goal to create “An App for Every Course, and More”, we are happy to announce the latest in our Course Assistant series of iOS apps: the Wolfram Linear Algebra Course Assistant. Powered by Wolfram|Alpha, the Wolfram Linear Algebra Course Assistant will help you work your way through homework problems, ace your tests, and gain a better understanding of linear algebra concepts!

Wolfram Linear Algebra Course Assistant More »

March 1, 2012– 7

(Update: You can now find this data in the Wolfram Cat Breeds Reference App for iOS.)

Famed amateur astronomer David H. Levy once stated, “Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want.” I’m a cat person and this seems to fit. Comets have a somewhat unpredictable nature to them, making it nearly impossible to determine how they will perform from one apparition to the next. This seems like a fitting description of cats as well, based on personal experience with my three cats. After recently diving into data on dog breeds, the natural next step would be to explore cat breeds.

Cat fancy is a rather popular activity, perhaps only slightly less popular than dog competitions. As with dog breeds, there are a number of accepted breeds that take part in competitions. We have gathered data from Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA) along with other sources to provide coverage on a majority of cat breeds.

Savannah cat More »