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ARCHIVE: July 2009
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July 29, 2009– 14

Wolfram|Alpha is a great resource for writers. It has an enormous words and linguistics database that writers can use for such things as word definitions, origins, synonyms, hyphenation, and Soundex lookups.

Type “word contest”, and Wolfram|Alpha will retrieve the word data for the English word “contest”. The results tell you many definitions of the word, that its first known recorded use was in 1603, that it rhymes with “conquest”, and a wealth of other data on just that word.

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July 27, 2009– 10

We are continuing to demonstrate ways you can use Wolfram|Alpha’s nutrition and wellness data, with helpful input tips and examples. In this example we are talking about how to use Wolfram|Alpha to make smart food choices. A variety of nutritional factors may be of importance depending on your dietary needs and wellness goals, which is why Wolfram|Alpha goes further than just providing the total number of calories in a food item.

Whether you are concerned about monitoring your total fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, or other nutrients, Wolfram|Alpha can provide you with this information for an individual food item, a meal, or a comprehensive calculation of your daily diet. In this post we’ll demonstrate how to calculate and compare the nutritional values of two food items. More »

July 24, 2009– 7

Many of our world’s advancements can be attributed to the evolution of communication mediums and styles. Today we can tweet a message in 140 characters or less around the world in a matter of seconds. But long before the days of the radio, telephone, the fax machine, and email there was the original text message—Morse code. And Wolfram|Alpha can translate a string of characters to and from Morse code.

Morse code was introduced to the world over 160 years ago, when Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail invented a telegraph that when triggered by electrical pulses made indentions in a paper tape with a stylus. They also developed a code of short dots and long dashes to represent letters, numbers, and special characters, allowing messages to be sent via those indentions. The sounds produced when the telegraph processed the electrical pulses became so familiar that adept users could translate the code by sounds, and the code would eventually be adapted for broadcast across the radio airwaves. This system would go on to become a major form of international communication, especially for those working and traveling in the air or out at sea.

Translating "Wolfram Alpha" into Morse code
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July 22, 2009– 11

Does today’s crossword have you puzzled? You could continue to fret, and fight the urge to check the full solution, or you could consult Wolfram|Alpha, which has the tools you need to solve the sneakiest constructions. Wolfram|Alpha can find words matching a pattern, words with specific beginnings and endings, and provide word definitions.

Crossword puzzle tools More »

July 20, 2009– 6

We have been highlighting ways that Wolfram|Alpha can be a useful tool in your everyday life, and we believe you will find our salary and wage data helpful in navigating your decisions in today’s job market. A lot of people are searching for full-time employment, relocating, exploring going back to school to change professions, or considering taking on multiple jobs. Many factors play into these decisions, and Wolfram|Alpha’s U.S. occupational salary data, and salary computations for local currencies, help you make informed choices.

Perhaps you are considering changing professions. In addition to supplying data on specific occupations, Wolfram|Alpha can compare U.S. occupational information for multiple jobs, including the median salary, the number of people employed at those jobs, and more. For example, here is the comparative information for a registered nurse, an elementary school teacher, and an accountant: More »

July 17, 2009– 7

Wolfram|Alpha introduces many new methods for understanding linguistic inputs. Those methods allow you and others around the world to ask it questions in natural ways. In this video, a developer working on Wolfram|Alpha’s linguistics shares a bit about her role in building and improving the system’s understanding to help you get the answers you’re looking for.

You can watch more interviews with Wolfram|Alpha team members here.

July 15, 2009– 12

We have spent some time on this blog talking about ways Wolfram|Alpha‘s nutrition and wellness data can be useful tools in your everyday life, such as by computing the nutritional value of your favorite recipe and identifying a healthy body weight. Some of you have since asked how you can use Wolfram|Alpha to understand your body’s caloric needs to maintain a healthy body. With all of the talk surrounding the latest fad diets and nutrition programs, information about our bodies’ basic needs often gets lost in the noise.

You can estimate your body’s daily caloric needs by computing your basal metabolic rate (BMR) within Wolfram|Alpha. Your BMR is the estimated number of calories (energy) your body expends when at complete rest—in other words, your daily caloric needs just to operate your vital organs, nervous system, muscles, and skin. BMR varies based on your age, gender, height, and weight, and needs to be recalculated whenever one of these factors changes. As your physical activity increases through routine movements, and exercise, the number of calories your body needs increases. More »

July 13, 2009– 5

Baseball is the great American pastime. We’re at the midpoint of the Major League Baseball season, and fans are gearing up for the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 in Saint Louis, Missouri. For baseball fans, this “Midsummer Classic” embodies much of what there is to love about baseball: a night at the park, hot dogs and Cracker Jacks, and top players from American and National League teams all on one diamond. But what we at Wolfram|Alpha love about baseball are all of the fast statistics that can be quickly computed and returned as easy-to-read graphs.

Wolfram|Alpha contains statistics and history for Major League Baseball teams’ wins, losses, pitching and batting histories, and more, from 1960–2008. This information allows you to easily compute statistics for a single season, or graph a visual history over decades. More »

July 8, 2009– 6

When it comes to astronomy data in Wolfram|Alpha, the sky is no limit! Hear what the developer working on Wolfram|Alpha’s astronomy features has to say about his role and the future of the project.

More interviews with Wolfram|Alpha team members are available here.

July 6, 2009– 11

If you’re as excited about Wolfram|Alpha as we are, and want to help out, consider becoming a volunteer curator. Our volunteer curators are passionate, enthusiastic people who are committed to gathering and checking data. We realize there is a lot of diverse knowledge across the world, and we want to give you the opportunity to be a part of this exciting project.

Currently we are working with volunteer curators from all over the world on geographical data, but we are open to volunteers with different interests or areas of expertise as well. If you’ve got knowledge or insight into a specific area, we want to hear from you.

Our ongoing volunteer curators receive a complimentary, temporary Mathematica license, with the potential to extend the license for long-term curation. You don’t need to know Mathematica to become a volunteer curator, but you will have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the program if you so choose. Volunteers check data, add data, and help us find new ways in which someone might search for data on Wolfram|Alpha.

There is a wide range of time available for volunteers per week, so whether you’d like to help a little or a lot, we would love to have you as a volunteer contributing to the advancement of Wolfram|Alpha.

If you are interested in become a volunteer curator, fill out our form here. If you have questions about the process, email We will respond to you as soon as possible and work with you to determine your area(s) of expertise and where you might fit in.

July 2, 2009– 10

Here at Wolfram|Alpha, we’re loosening our belts for the 94th annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, a U.S. Independence Day tradition that draws participants and audiences from all over the world. At this year’s event, two-time champion Joey ”Jaws” Chestnut, from San Jose, California, will face off against six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi, from Nagano, Japan, in the quest for the famous Nathan’s Mustard Belt. We’re getting hungry just thinking about all the numbers at the World Cup of hot dog eating contests.

In 2008, Chestnut and Kobayashi tied when they each scarfed down 59 hot dogs and buns in the 10-minute regulation match, forcing the event into overtime. Ultimately, Chestnut prevailed when he polished off 5 additional hot dogs, for a total of 64.

Based on Wolfram|Alpha’s nutrition computation for 64 generic hots dogs and 64 standard hot dog rolls, Chestnut consumed over 17,000 calories.

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July 1, 2009– 4

Recently, we had the opportunity to showcase Wolfram|Alpha at a local TECH cocktail event in Champaign, Illinois. Our video team had the camera rolling as people got their first look at Wolfram|Alpha. Here’s what they had to say: