Wolfram Alpha, a computational engine that answers fact-based queries, is a fascinating tool that many people are aware of, but don't use to its full capabilities. The following Wolfram Alpha shortcuts will help you frame your queries more efficiently and retrieve hyper-appropriate results.
1. MathematicsYou can do basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc) with Wolfram Alpha, but you can also use it to compute fractions, decimals ("pi to 1000 digits"), or convert a decimal number to another base. Here's a few more:
2. AstronomyWhether you're an astronomy buff or just looking to learn a few new facts about the universe, Wolfram Alpha does the job. You can use Wolfram Alpha to generate a star chart; you can append your local area on that command (i.e., "san francisco star chart") to make it even more personal.
- Find out when the next solar eclipse is scheduled
- Compute locations and other properties of a comet, for example, Halley's comet
- Compare several stars, such as alpha Centauri A, beta Centauri, gamma Centauri
- Find the property of a certain galaxy: How far is NGC 4603 from Earth?
- Get information on a satellite (International Space Station), an observatory (Greenwich Observatory, or a space probe (Voyager 1)
3. Life SciencesGet information about dinosaurs, animal species, or molecular biology. More tricks:
4. TechnologyCommunications technology, photography, barcodes, and more.
- Find out what the carbon footprint of coal is.
- Get information about a structure, for example, the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Generate a barcode corresponding to a specific ISBN number, for example, ISBN 1-5795-5008-8.
- Compute subject magnification: subject magnification 10m.
- Translate a string of text into Morse code, i.e., Morse code "Wolfram Alpha".
5. Money and FinancesWolfram Alpha offers many useful financial functions and calculations so you can get quick answers.
- Get current data about any stock on the market: General Electric. You can also compare several stocks at the same time: MSFT, AAPL, GOOG.
- Calculate your mortgage: mortgage $150,000, 6.5%, 30 years.
- Compare currencies: 1300 Mexican pesos / 20,000 Russian rubles.
- Figure out tax deductions, for example, what are the typical deductions on $2.5 million?
- Find the historical value of a unit of money: 10,000 current dollars in 1910.
6. MusicLearn more about the components that make up your favorite musical composition.
7. Sports and GamesSports, while definitely emotionally fulfilling, also offer a lot of very scientific facts and statistics, all of which you can find on Wolfram Alpha.
- Compare baseball teams; New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox
- Compare statistics for different teams, like passing touchdowns for both the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos.
- Find Olympics information, such as How many medals has Michael Phelps won?, background research on Olympic gold medals.
- Get a little help with your poker game: probability 3 queens 2 jacks.
8. GeographyWolfram Alpha is a fantastic source for stats, especially geography.
- Generate a world map for any given statistic, for example, life expectancy.
- Locate something using longitude and latitude: 55 deg 45' N, 37 deg 37' E.
- Find an IP address, even yours: Where am I?.
- Compare several cities' demographics: New York, London, Tokyo.
- Get information on tides for a specific location, i.e., tides Seattle.
- Compare the heights of two different mountains: height Mt Timpanogos / Mt McKinley.
- Research a park, monument, or historical site of interest: Lincoln Memorial.
9. People and HistoryWhether you're looking for information on a historical person of interest, or just researching your family tree, Wolfram Alpha is a good resource.
- Figure out a family relationship, for instance, Lincoln Memorial.
- Compare several names - Elizabeth, Rebecca, Jennifer - and find out what they mean.
- Get the latest salary information on a variety of professions at the same time: salary mathematician, physicist, chemist.
- Build your own historical timeline: founding of Carthage, Trojan War.
- Get the latest information on current political leaders, for example, the President of Argentina.
10. Cultural Events and MultimediaWolfram Alpha is a wonderful resource for stats on pretty much anything you can think of, and cultural information is definitely not an exception.
- Get information about a book (The Grapes of Wrath), or compare two books (On the Road, Naked Lunch) to see their differences and similarities.
- Find what you need to know about a specific movie (Goodfellas).
- Wolfram Alpha also offers information about fictional characters, such as Gandalf the Grey or Snoopy.
- Need to research the Oscars? Ask a question, like Oscar for best actress 1958, and Wolfram Alpha will find the answer.