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03 Jun, 2009

Wolfram Alpha and Google Squared

Posted by: Skylar In: internet coverage|pavement|technology

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about Wolfram|Alpha, which is a new way to find data online.  A classic google search uses only information taken directly from the web, but Wolfram Alpha takes a bunch of facts and figures and uses various mathematical formulas to provide you with enhanced information.  For the most part, it seems that this would provide a bit of entertainment, but it doesn’t seem extremely useful in it’s current state.  For instance, a search for “stormwater” currently gives no result.   But there’s a little section in the “Engineering” examples dedicated to “Civil Engineering”.  I put that in quotes because it gives only two links – one of which seems to be more of a mechanical engineering calculation than anything else.  Nonetheless, it got me thinking.

I tried another search for groundwater.  This gives me the volume of the world’s groundwater.  Thus, a search for “groundwater / world population” gives:

0.001533 km^3/person  (kilometers cubed per person)  (2006 estimate)

Here are some more “civil engineering” wolfram searches:

Asphalt
Elevation Kitchener
Length of a Dam
Dry Sand
Darcy’s Law
Bernoulli Equation
Darcy-Weisbach Equation
Manning’s Equation

…And I’m sure there’s plenty more where those came from.  In short, yes – I’d say there’s some useful information on Wolfram Alpha.  Right now it takes a lot of searching to find relevant information, but as the database expands, it has the potential to become a great tool for Civil Engineers.


In other news, Google announced Google Squared.  The news on this google labs product is that it’s results are all over the place (at least for now).   As an example, consider a search for “Civil Engineer”.  The last result is “Osama Bin Ladin”, which is not very good PR for our profession.  It seems the relationship has developed from wikipedia, which claims:

Some reports suggest bin Laden earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979,[12] or a degree in public administration in 1981.

Anyways, I’m not going to say there is no useful data from Google Squared.  It’s a great starting point to learn about new topics when you don’t yet know what to search for.  I’ve found a few interesting tables, but nothing too revolutionary as of yet.  In the future, I can certainly see this growing into a very valuable resource.

Got any good civil engineering Wolfram Alpha or Google Squared searches? Leave em’ in the comments!

3 Responses to "Wolfram Alpha and Google Squared"

1 | Joey

June 10th, 2009 at 5:21 am

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Thanks for the links! I had not heard about either and they are both quite interesting.

2 | Kalebarkab

June 10th, 2009 at 9:51 am

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I want to find good pop music. Help me please.

3 | Emre

December 16th, 2009 at 10:25 am

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thanks a lot. Very useful information

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