We here at Wolfram|Alpha are constantly trying to improve the user experience by fine-tuning our algorithms and making our functionality in every domain more versatile and flexible. We are pleased to announce that we have made useful upgrades to chemistry functionality in Wolfram|Alpha, especially in the domain of solution chemistry. We have new data that enables you to quickly determine whether a given set of solvents are miscible in each other or not: “Is acetone miscible in benzene?” You also could ask for the list of liquids that are miscible in a given solvent: “What solvents are miscible in acetone?” We are improving our coverage of this area, with new data being added regularly.

Another year has flown by here at Wolfram|Alpha, and the gears are really turning! New data and features are flowing at a rapid rate. To celebrate, Wolfram|Alpha’s creator, Stephen Wolfram, will share what we’ve been working on and take your questions in a live Q&A.

Please join us on Facebook or Wolfram|Alpha’s Livestream on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, at 10am PDT/12pm CDT/1pm EDT/6pm BST.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, please send it as a comment to this blog post or tweet to @Wolfram_Alpha and include the hashtag #WAChat. We’ll also be taking questions live on Facebook and Livestream chat during the webcast.

We’re looking forward to chatting with you on May 18!

Do you need some help navigating your chemistry or precalculus classes? Or maybe you’re still trying to decide which classes to take this fall. Good news! Today, we’re releasing the Wolfram General Chemistry and Precalculus Course Assistant Apps, two more Wolfram|Alpha-powered course assistants that will help you better understand the concepts addressed in these classes.

If you’re taking chemistry, download the Wolfram General Chemistry Course Assistant App for everything from looking up simple properties like electron configurations to computing the stoichiometric amounts of solutes that are present in solutions of different concentrations. This app is handy for lab researchers, too!

The specialized keyboard allows you to enter chemicals by using formulas or by spelling out their names.

More »

When we are growing up and learning about the world, there are moments when a topic or idea really catches our attention. Perhaps it is while reading a book or during a lecture given by a good teacher. For me, one of those moments occurred during my junior year of high school in Mr. Brooks’s chemistry class. We were learning about the structure of the atom, and Mr. Brooks did a demonstration for us. He turned off the lights in the classroom and turned on a hydrogen discharge tube. The tube glowed with a pink light. Then Mr. Brooks put a prism in front of the glowing discharge tube, and several vertical lines of light appeared on the chalk board behind the prism.

At the time, I didn’t really understand that the voltage applied across the discharge tube was exciting the electrons around the hydrogen atoms and that the lines formed as the pink light passed through the prism were characteristic wavelengths of light being emitted as the electrons around the hydrogen atoms returned to lower energy levels. But I clearly remember the intense curiosity I felt about the phenomenon I was witnessing. It is, therefore, with some nostalgia that I announce the addition of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) atomic spectra database to Wolfram|Alpha.

Investigation of atomic spectra contributed significantly to our understanding of atomic structure and are described by the Rydberg formula. Furthermore, atomic spectra are used by astronomers to classify and determine the composition of stars. Today, the NIST database has become the most comprehensive and reliable set of data for atomic spectra and includes information about spectral lines and atomic energy levels associated with many elements and ions. All of this data can now be found in Wolfram|Alpha, including that visible hydrogen spectrum I was so curious about in high school:

Prior to releasing Wolfram|Alpha into the world this past May, we launched the Wolfram|Alpha Blog. Since our welcome message on April 28, we’ve made 133 additional posts covering Wolfram|Alpha news, team member introductions, and “how-to’s” in a wide variety of areas, including finance, nutrition, chemistry, astronomy, math, travel, and even solving crossword puzzles.

As 2009 draws to a close we thought we’d reach into the archives to share with you some of this year’s most popular blog posts.

#### April

**Rack ’n’ Roll**

*Take a peek at our system administration team hard at work on one of the
many pre-launch projects. *Continue reading…

**May**

**The Secret Behind the Computational Engine in Wolfram|Alpha**

*Although it’s tempting to think of Wolfram|Alpha as a place to look up facts, that’s only part of the story. The thing that truly sets Wolfram|Alpha apart is that it is able to do sophisticated computations for you, both pure computations involving numbers or formulas you enter, and computations applied automatically to data called up from its repositories.
*

*Why does computation matter? Because computation is what turns generic information into specific answers.* Continue reading…

**Live, from Champaign!**

*Wolfram|Alpha just went live for the very first time, running all clusters.*

*This first run at testing Wolfram|Alpha in the real world is off to an auspicious start, although not surprisingly, we’re still working on some kinks, especially around logging.
*

*While we’re still in the early stages of this long-term project, it is really gratifying to finally have the opportunity to invite you to participate in this project with us. *Continue reading…

**June**

**Wolfram|Alpha Q&A Webcast**

*Stephen Wolfram shared the latest news and updates about Wolfram|Alpha and answered several users’ questions in a live webcast yesterday.*

* If you missed it, you can watch the recording here.* Continue reading… More »

We’re really catching the holiday spirit here at Wolfram|Alpha.

We recently announced our special holiday sale for the Wolfram|Alpha app. Now we are launching our first-ever Wolfram|Alpha “Holiday Tweet-a-Day” contest.

Here’s how it works.

From tomorrow, Tuesday, December 22, through Saturday, January 2, we’ll use Twitter to give away a gift a day. Be the first to retweet our “Holiday Tweet-a-Day” tweet and you get the prize! You can double your chances to win by following and playing along with Wolfram Research.

Start following us today so you don’t miss your chance to win with our Wolfram|Alpha “Holiday Tweet-a-Day” contest.

A few months back we introduced our blog readers to Wolfram|Alpha’s chemistry data, and we thought it would be fitting to have a Chemistry 101 review blog post for Homework Day. Wolfram|Alpha contains a wealth of chemistry data, and provides you with rapid and accurate computations at the simple push of a button. Wolfram|Alpha is an incredible learning tool for new chemistry students looking for ways to learn and test their knowledge of chemistry basics. Many of the topic areas found in an introductory or basic chemistry 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.

We know college is hard. So we’re highlighting examples of how Wolfram|Alpha can make subjects and concepts a bit easier to learn. Wolfram|Alpha is a free computational knowledge engine that can help you tackle everything from calculus, to computing the number of pages for a double-spaced 1000-word essay, to comparing the flash points of methane, butane, and octane, to figuring just how much money it’s going to cost you to drive home to do your laundry. Check out a quick introduction to Wolfram|Alpha from its creator, Stephen Wolfram.

We want to help you take full advantage of this resource. Over the next term, we’ll be highlighting helpful computations and information here on the blog, and even providing ways you can get involved with our company. (Would you like to be a part of the Wolfram|Alpha Team on your campus? Stay tuned to find out how you can be involved.) For this post we selected several of our favorite examples to help you start thinking about how you can use Wolfram|Alpha in your courses, and in your always-changing college life. More »

On Monday, we kicked off our series on using Wolfram|Alpha for chemistry in honor of the American Chemical Society’s Fall 2009 National Meeting & Exposition, taking place in Washington, DC, USA this week. In this post, we begin to break down chemistry topics by taking a look Wolfram|Alpha’s collection of chemical element data. If you are attending the meeting, stop by the Wolfram Research booth, #2101, for a personal introduction to Wolfram|Alpha and the technology behind it.

The periodic table and its elements can be viewed as the foundation for building your knowledge and understanding of chemistry. Wolfram|Alpha defines a chemical element as any of the more than 100 known substances that cannot be separated into simpler substances and that singly or in combination constitute all matter. Currently, there are 118 commonly recognized elements, 92 of which occur naturally, and the others synthetically. The periodic table is organized in 18 columns (called groups) and 7 rows (called periods). Elements are arranged in the table based on their atomic weight.

In Wolfram|Alpha you can retrieve data for a chemical element in a number of ways, such as by name, symbol, atomic number, or a specific class, such as radioactive elements. In this example we query “hydrogen” and quickly learn from the basic elemental properties pod that it has an atomic number of one, which places it in the first position on the periodic table. We also learn its symbol, atomic weight, thermodynamic properties, material properties, electromagnetic properties, reactivity, atomic properties, abundances, nuclear properties, and identifiers. Click the image to explore more properties of hydrogen.

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.

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

Here is an example of how you can save time by converting properties in Wolfram|Alpha:

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.