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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Wolfram|Alpha Chemistry 101

August 17, 2009 —
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This week the American Chemical Society (ACS) is holding its Fall 2009 National Meeting & Exposition in Washington, DC, USA. In honor of professional chemists, educators, and students, we’re celebrating chemistry this week. If you are attending the meeting and would like a personal introduction to Wolfram|Alpha or the technology behind it, drop by the Wolfram Research booth, #2101.

Wolfram|Alpha contains a wealth of chemistry data, and provides you rapid computations that ensure accuracy and save time. Wolfram|Alpha is also an incredible learning tool, especially for new chemistry students looking for ways to learn, understand, compare, and test their knowledge of chemistry basics. Many of the topic areas found on an introductory or advanced course syllabus can be explored in Wolfram|Alpha.

Need to compute how many moles are in 5 grams of iron? Query “how many moles are in 5 grams of iron?”, and Wolfram|Alpha quickly computes your input and returns a result, along with unit conversions.

Wolfram|Alpha computes how many moles are in 5 grams of iron

Need some quick facts about carbon? With a quick query, Wolfram|Alpha returns its periodic table location, thermodynamic and material properties, and much more.
Wolfram|Alpha retrieves quick facts on carbon

Here is an example of how you can save time by converting properties in Wolfram|Alpha:
Wolfram|Alpha converts 5 moles of water to molecules

With Wolfram|Alpha you can explore additional areas of basic chemistry such as computing a unit conversion, referencing chemical elements, ions, chemical compounds, thermodynamics, quantities of chemicals, and chemical solutions.

In Wednesday’s blog post we will break down chemistry topic areas and explore how Wolfram|Alpha can help you work through specific exercises, such as identifying and comparing classes of chemical elements, calculating thermodynamics, preparing solutions, converting units, and stoichiometry. Are you a professional who is using Wolfram|Alpha in your research today? Are you an instructor who has incorporated Wolfram|Alpha into your classroom, or a student who is using it to prepare for your chemistry courses? Share your experiences with other chemistry enthusiasts having this conversation on the Wolfram|Alpha Community site.


What’s with the stupid imperial units – the default should be metric units – you pretend to be something scientific and then tables contain values in miles and Farenheit and so on, come on! At least when I repeatedly switch to metric units, could you just store my preference in a cookie or something?!

Posted by someone August 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    User preferences could be stored in the User Stats file perhaps renaming it ‘User profile’. However this sort of thing costs money and should perhaps come when subscriptions are introduced.

    Posted by Brian Gilbert August 19, 2009 at 2:03 am

      Subscriptions? Oh shoot. I knew it wouldn’t be free for long. Or will it? Will there always be a free version? What will be the benefits of subscribing?

      Posted by Fred Feldon August 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Are we ever going to get reaction data? eg “react 1 mol aqueous HCl with Mg”, from which WA would output what happened, what the products would be, how much energy would be released etc

Posted by Jianaran August 17, 2009 at 6:20 pm

It’d be great if conversions “showed work”, using the factor-label method which includes each sub-conversion or step as a process of canceling out units and multiplying by conversion factors….

Posted by jo August 18, 2009 at 9:22 am


    Thank you for the suggestion. Our team will look into this further.

    Thank you!

    Posted by The PR Team August 18, 2009 at 1:40 pm

@someone, why not give an example instead of complaining. In my experience WA gives data multiple units. I’ve never had a problem with “stupid imperial units.” Perhaps you’re just doing it wrong.

Posted by Casey August 18, 2009 at 11:27 am

There is no answer for this…
how many electrons are in 1 g of helium ?

Posted by Ujjwol August 22, 2009 at 5:46 am

I saw Theo Gray speak on alpha at Scifoo and commented on the basic lack of support for stereochemistry in Alpha in terms of chemical structures. For example, Taxol retrieves a compound without any stereochemistry : THat connection table without stereo is NOT Taxol. The same issue persists across the database. On CHemSpider, recently acquired by the Royal Society of Chemistry, we are working very hard to validate structure-name pairs …see here for Taxol. I think that Alpha would get great value from integrating/using the ChemSpider dataset and I welcome the opportunity to discuss at your convenience.

Posted by ChemSpiderman August 28, 2009 at 8:08 pm

@ Max Kingsbury: it done not make sense to convert a quantity of water into a number of atoms… if you enter ‘convert 5 moles of water to molecules’, the correct result appears!

Posted by seb September 29, 2009 at 11:09 am

@seb: It actually does. A molecule of water is made up of three atoms. I would expect 5 moles of water to be 15 moles of atoms, 2/3 hydrogen and 1/3 oxygen.

Posted by max kingsbury January 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm