03 Jun, 2009
Wolfram Alpha and Google Squared
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.
0.001533 km^3/person (kilometers cubed per person) (2006 estimate)
Here are some more “civil engineering” wolfram searches:
…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:
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!