As we bid adieu to 2010, we want say thank you to all of our loyal blog readers and commenters. Today we’re taking a look back at some of 2010’s most popular Wolfram|Alpha Blog posts. 2010 was a year full of product releases, such as Wolfram|Alpha Widgets and new data for everything from movies to taxes.
These selections are only highlights of the topics we’ve covered in 2010. If you’re feeling really nostalgic, or if you’re new to the Wolfram|Alpha Blog, we invite you to read more in the archives.
Just in time to tackle a common New Year’s resolution, we released “New Physical Activity Data in Wolfram|Alpha”.
After reading “Computing Valentine’s Day with Wolfram|Alpha”, there was little doubt that we speak math, the universal language of love.
Ever wonder which country consumes the most coffee or sugar? In March, we introduced new data that answers these questions in the post “Food for Thought: Consumption Patterns from Around the World”.
In April we were excited to finally be able to share “Stephen Wolfram’s TED Talk: Computation Is Destined to Be the Defining Idea of Our Future”. The inspirational video quickly became a web favorite.
Where did the time go? In May we celebrated Wolfram|Alpha’s first birthday with the post “Wolfram|Alpha: The First Year”.
Just in time for family reunion season, we published “My Cousin’s Cousin’s Niece’s Grandfather Said to Just Ask Wolfram|Alpha”, to help you identify all of those branches on the family tree.
In July we shared “Ask Wolfram|Alpha about Medical Drug Treatments” to introduce a new functionality in Wolfram|Alpha that allows you to compare how your medical conditions and treatment plans compare to those of other patients.
Kids say the darnedest things. In the post “10 Fun Questions Kids Can Answer with Wolfram|Alpha”, we took a look at how Wolfram|Alpha can help you and your little one answer common curiosities. More »
This Thursday, we’ll celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. The first U.S. National Thanksgiving was celebrated on November 26, 1789. The holiday was originally established to show gratitude for a plentiful harvest and to give thanks for relationships with family and friends. A customary U.S. Thanksgiving celebration is centered on sharing a great feast that includes turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and more with loved ones. (Of course, in recent years, we’ve also tossed in football and holiday shopping.)
A cornucopia is a traditional centerpiece that symbolizes abundance and is often found on a Thanksgiving meal table. Wolfram|Alpha is a cornucopia of sorts—a horn filled with many trillions of pieces of data that produce an abundance of facts. In the spirit of the holiday, we though we’d share some fun Thanksgiving-themed facts we discovered from Wolfram|Alpha.
Fact: A typical turkey bats its wings 3 times per second.
Fact: If you’re in Champaign, Illinois, set your alarm to 6:51am on Thanksgiving Day if you’re planning to rise with the sun to start cooking your holiday bird. Click here for sunrise information for your location.
Fact: The chill point of cranberries is 2 degrees Celsius.
Fact: There are 5.8 grams of fiber in one serving of cornbread stuffing.
Fact: The first known English use of the word “cornucopia” was in 1508.
Dig into Wolfram|Alpha to find interesting facts of your own. (You might need them in the near future—hint, hint.) Here at Wolfram|Alpha, we’re thankful for all of our dedicated blog readers and Wolfram|Alpha users.
Runners and cyclists can now get personalized physical activity and fitness results from Wolfram|Alpha. Our team has added enhanced activity formulas to provide specific results that account for the individual differences among all types of runners and cyclists. Whether preparing for a race or monitoring regular routines, athletes and enthusiasts alike can now calculate actual performance results and compute performance predictions and the impact of exercise on personal physical fitness.
You can calculate your own results in Wolfram|Alpha by using a natural language input such as “cycling 72.13 miles for 240 minutes” or you can type in “cycling” to explore all of the formula’s options. For example, a cyclist who is preparing for, or who has just completed, a race can calculate a variety of user-specific metabolic properties, like the amount of fat and the number of calories burned, by taking into account factors such as age, gender, height, weight, incline, resting heart rate, and wind speed and direction. Below are sample results from Wolfram|Alpha when calculating the speed a 25-year-old male cyclist needs to maintain to complete a race in 240 minutes:
To complement the results of Wolfram|Alpha’s calculations, cyclists can compare their speed or pace with world record times by clicking the “Show comparisons” link.
Runners can input similar information and calculate calories and fat burned; oxygen consumed; heart rate; equivalent activities; conversions for speed, pace, distance, and time; and performance predictions. For this example, we convinced a member of our team to share his post-race results from the 2009 Chicago Marathon: More »
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults engage in at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic physical activity each week. Recommendations for children age 6 to 17 are even higher: at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous activity each day.
Yet according to the CDC, only one-third of American adults regularly engage in some kind of physical activity, and the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past three decades—to nearly 20% among children age 6 to 19. The warm and sunny days of summer provide an excellent opportunity to try new outdoor activities, or spend more time engaged in old favorites. Wolfram|Alpha can perform useful computations for many popular summer water sports, including fishing, water skiing, and sailing. By adding time and/or body weight to these inputs, you can tailor the calculations to your own physical measurements and activity schedule:
- fishing for three hours »
- fat burned water skiing if I weigh 175 lbs »
- calories burned sailing for 45 minutes »
- rowing 50 m/min »
- going for a swim at 4 mph »
- rowing for 35 minutes at 4 meter/min 150 lbs male »
- swimming 9 min/mile for 30 minutes 25 years old »
In addition to basic information about calories and fat burned, the amount of oxygen consumed, and the metabolic equivalents required for the activity, Wolfram|Alpha also computes estimates of working heart rate and heart rate reserve.
Below the “Heart rate pod”, Wolfram|Alpha generates an “Equivalent activities” pod that displays the amount of time it would take to expend the same amount of energy performing other activities. Within the “Speed” and “Pace” pods that follow, you can click “Show comparisons” to see how your predicted performance measures up against various world records. Below the “Pace” pod, there are “Distance” and “Time” pods followed by the “Performance prediction” pod. Using Riegel’s endurance model, this pod displays the predicted time, speed, and pace over standard swimming race distances. More »
A movement is underway in the United States to reintroduce schools and families to freshly prepared meals. Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced the “Let’s Move” campaign, an effort to raise awareness of and access to fresh food in schools and in our communities. The goal of the campaign is to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. This Friday, Chef Jamie Oliver’s new television show Food Revolution will take us inside a few of America’s school cafeterias and classrooms in an effort to fulfill his wish to teach every child about food.
Wolfram|Alpha is already being used as a learning tool in schools to tackle subject areas such as math, science, social studies, and more. But did you know that Wolfram|Alpha contains a number of tools to help schools and families successfully start their own nutrition and wellness revolutions?
Imagine if students had the opportunity to compare the nutritional values of lunch options and make informed decisions before ever hitting the cafeteria. For example, students can go online to Wolfram|Alpha and compare grilled chicken breast to a corn dog. Wolfram|Alpha provides them with a nutrition label for each item, and shows a side-by-side comparison of nutritional values such as fats, proteins, and vitamins in each food option. Click the image below to see the full results.
When Wolfram|Alpha launched, we were able to estimate physiological energy expenditures for very basic exercise queries involving walking and running. But now we can answer much more detailed questions about a broader assortment of physical activities. For example, this query will compute the energy burned by running a specific distance in a given time:
You can also specify a running speed over a given distance: More »
When we launched Wolfram|Alpha in May 2009, it already contained trillions of pieces of information—the result of nearly five years of sustained data-gathering, on top of more than two decades of formula and algorithm development in Mathematica. Since then, we’ve successfully released a new build of Wolfram|Alpha’s codebase each week, incorporating not only hundreds of minor behind-the-scenes enhancements and bug fixes, but also a steady stream of major new features and datasets.
We’ve highlighted some of these new additions in this blog, but many more have entered the system with little fanfare. As we near the end of 2009, we wanted to look back at seven months of new Wolfram|Alpha features and functionality.
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.