As summer heats up, we instinctively reach for the air conditioning (AC) controls. This miracle of modern technology lets us create a cool breeze to banish the crushing heat. At the same time, AC brings soaring electric bills. How can we optimize our use of air conditioning, keeping cool while minimizing our costs?
Wolfram|Alpha provides several helpful formulas in this area, the first of which is a method for calculating the degree days for a location over a period of time. Degree days is a measure of how often the temperature was above (for cooling) or below (for heating) a given temperature or range of temperatures. It is used in a wide range of climate and energy cost-related areas, from agriculture to monitoring the heating and cooling costs of climate-controlled buildings. More »
Recently the author of xkcd, Randall Munroe, was asked the question of how long it would be necessary for someone to fall in order to jump out of an airplane, fill a large balloon with helium while falling, and land safely. Randall unfortunately ran into some difficulties with completing his calculation, including getting his IP address banned by Wolfram|Alpha. (No worries: we received his request and have already fixed that.) More »
As part of our ongoing plan to expand Wolfram|Alpha’s numerical method functionality to more kinds of algorithms, we recently addressed solving differential equations. There are a number of different numerical methods available for calculating solutions, the most common of which are the Runge–Kutta methods. This family of algorithms can be used to approximate the solutions of ordinary differential equations. More »
Like many people, I went to see the movie Elysium last weekend. The movie’s premise is that the wealthy members of society have relocated to an orbital space station, named Elysium, that circles the Earth while the rest of humanity is stuck on a seemingly dying world.
Focusing on the science of the movie, what can Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha tell us about the space station and some of the other events portrayed? More »
As we continue to expand the functionality of Wolfram|Alpha, we want to include not only the symbolic and exact results, but also allow you the option to explore the numerical approximations for solving mathematical problems such as differential equations and integrals. These methods, both simple and complex, continue to underpin many of our modern day calculations. More »