We recently posted a blog entry celebrating the anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. Now, just a couple weeks later, we are preparing for another first: the European Space Agency’s attempt to orbit and then land on a comet. The Rosetta spacecraft was launched in 2004 with the ultimate goal of orbiting and landing on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Since the launch, Rosetta has already flown by asteroid Steins, in 2008, and asteroid 21 Lutetia, in 2010.
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have a long history of sending probes to other solar system bodies that then orbit those bodies. The bodies have usually been nice, well-behaved, and spherical, making orbital calculations a fairly standard thing. But, as Rosetta recently started to approach comet 67P, we began to get our first views of this alien world. And it is far from spherical. More »
It’s been a while since we looked at American Community Survey data in Wolfram|Alpha. Our first efforts included surveying ACS data related to education, income, and diversity, only touching the tip of the iceberg.
Recently, we took a deeper look at the data to unearth some of the least “average” communities in the US.
As you might guess, at the national level, female and male populations are split almost evenly (50.8% and 49.2%, respectively). But there are metropolitan communities in the US where the split doesn’t hew to the national average, and the ACS data in Wolfram|Alpha lets us find them.
Take Susanville, CA, for example. At just 34.5%, this community in Northern California has the smallest percentage of female residents in the US. More »
Photography by Tracy Howl and Paul Clarke
Has our newfound massive availability of data improved decisions and lead to better democracy around the world? Most would say, “It’s highly questionable.”
Conrad Wolfram’s TEDx UK Parliament talk poses this question and explains how computation can be key to the answer, bridging the divide between availability and practical accessibility of data, individualized answers, and the democratization of new knowledge generation. This transformation will be critical not only to government efficiency and business effectiveness—but will fundamentally affect education, society, and democracy as a whole.
Wolfram|Alpha and Mathematica 10 demos feature throughout—including a live Wolfram Language generated tweet.
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 »
Although I was born several years after the first Apollo Moon landing, the excitement surrounding the Apollo Moon landings and the space exploration enthusiasm it fostered drastically affected my childhood and shaped the direction my later life would follow. The space race, arguably peaking with the Apollo Moon landings, generated a funding explosion for science education that allowed many planetariums to be built and a phase of education encouragement that affected many of my generation. If we could land on the Moon, imagine what else we might achieve if we worked hard enough.
On July 20, we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. This landing began a sequence of Moon landings that ended with Apollo 17. We can leverage Wolfram|Alpha and the recently released Mathematica 10 to help us celebrate and continue exploring (data, in this case). The available data includes dates, crew information, and landing coordinates.
Let’s explore the crew information first. As with many famous people, Wolfram|Alpha gives a fair amount of information like birth dates and locations, pictures, time lines, height information, and familial information. More »