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January 14, 2015 7:14 AM   Subscribe

 
Those tweets are missing an @stephen_wolfram; he's the only one that can fix these things, don't you know?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:17 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Though here's one it can answer.)

This one too.
posted by capricorn at 7:20 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


You mean basically anything I type into it?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:21 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wolfram Alpha is the Applescript of search engines.
posted by gwint at 7:26 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Huh, I must have been using Wolfram Alpha wrong because I only stumped it with partial differential equations I was too lazy to solve on my own.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:32 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Though here's one it can answer.)

From the 'related queries': 'Warp Speed 6.' Not only does it translate that, by default, into meters-per-second, but it also has a drop-down toggle to switch between The Original Series warp speed calculations and The Next Generation warp speed calculations. What a truly helpful future we live in.
posted by cjelli at 8:04 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I blogged about why Wolfram Alpha is weaker than Google.
posted by escabeche at 8:09 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dunno. It's surprisingly broad. TIL there are 316 people named Eustace.
posted by Naberius at 8:19 AM on January 14, 2015


I used Wolfram Alpha quite a bit when it first came out, and I remember being really impressed particularly at how it handled unit analysis. Mildly tedious stuff like (x foot-pounds) * (y m/s) into watts... which sure, it's not exactly groundbreaking mathematics, but it requires knowing a bunch of conversion factors that I never bothered to memorize — it does all the annoying bits for you.

But in the last few years it's seemed like Google has gotten smarter and smarter, and I've had less reason to search explicitly using Wolfram. I think it still does some things better than Google, but not a ton.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:51 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


but are you people using the LANGUAGE wolfram in your queries, huh?
posted by symbioid at 9:03 AM on January 14, 2015


escabeche : in that blog post, you say "but that’s because no one has ever asked those questions, and no one ever will."

But now - I picture an AI that utilizes Wolfram not to ANSWER questions, but to ASK questions, and then put them to people in a Jeopardy style trivia game.
posted by symbioid at 9:08 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


WA handles base 60 and polynomial division better than Google. For most other things, if Google can't handle it, I just use a real CAS package instead.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:22 AM on January 14, 2015


Does Alpha have to get the right answer? I was amused by "average number of bumps on a log", which it is happy to provide an answer for.

I also failed to find any variation on "smallest counting number never before returned as the result of a wolfram alpha query" that worked :(
posted by jepler at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


But now - I picture an AI that utilizes Wolfram not to ANSWER questions, but to ASK questions, and then put them to people in a Jeopardy style trivia game.

except that the losers DIE and that is what the roboapocalypse will be, all of us huddled in burned-out buildings drilling our children on Fermi estimation before Wolfram-Watson selects them for The Great Game
posted by kagredon at 9:50 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


It works fine:

Q: "What is the answer to life, the universe and the meaning of everything?"

A: "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything | 42"
posted by double block and bleed at 10:07 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another disappointing failure.

On the positive side, the stars aren't going out.
posted by BrashTech at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also:

Q: "what is the speed of an unladen swallow?"

Input interpretation: "estimated average cruising airspeed of an unladen European swallow"

A: "25 mph"
posted by double block and bleed at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been sitting here for the last ten minutes struggling with the knowledge that "My Wolfram|Alpha can't" fits perfectly into the meter of "My anaconda don't", but I got nothing for the rest of the chorus.
posted by narain at 10:20 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


my wolfram alpha can't
my wolfram alpha can't
my wolfram alpha can't count up a load of positrons
posted by kagredon at 11:05 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now do one about Memory Alpha.
posted by duffell at 1:20 PM on January 14, 2015


I am continually frustrated by Wolfram Alpha any time I try to get it to actually crunch publicly available data, e.g. comparing median income variation by census tract in California. I had assumed that maybe this was something that I needed Wolfram Gold for, but maybe it's just a frustrating tool that's only really meant for crunching polynomials.
posted by klangklangston at 3:47 PM on January 14, 2015


I did ask it about some cookies I made earlier and found its response a bit defensive.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2015


At least it's clever enough to dodge the old leprechaun scam.
posted by rifflesby at 5:18 PM on January 14, 2015


^ This one too.

Oh god. Now Wolfram Alpha will always respond in the voice of Shaggy in my head. I'm not sure if this is wonderful or terrible.
posted by polymath at 7:06 PM on January 14, 2015


The next eclipse on a Thursday.
The next eclipse visible in South America

Totally answerable but WolframAlpha does. Not. Understand.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:08 PM on January 14, 2015


My favorite use case for Wolfram|Alpha is "Too lazy to remember Mathematica syntax."
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:23 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


but it does understand

"next solar eclipse on thursday"
and "next solar eclipse in uruguay"
posted by TheLittlePrince at 12:37 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"next solar eclipse on thursday"

It find the next solar eclipse after this Thursday, which is on a Friday in March.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:43 PM on January 20, 2015


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