Fun with Wolfram Alpha.

Wolfram Alpha is without question one of the most useful sites I visit. It brands itself as a computational knowledge engine and it comes in handy both at home and at work.

At work I use it to calculate the time remaining until my next break or the end of my shift. I then enter the calculated time frame into my stopwatch program to start the countdown. I have a second instance of the same stopwatch program to count down the same time divided in half. For example, if I’m curious about the remaining time between my lunch break and the end of my shift, I enter “1:15pm to 6:00pm” and get the calculated time span of 4 hours and 45 minutes. To divide that time span in half, I simply enter “1:15pm to 6:00pm / 2” and it returns the calculated time span of 2 hours, 22 minutes and 30 seconds. When the halfway timer reaches zero, I’m that closer to the end of my shift.

On a more practical level, Wolfram Alpha comes in handy for helping me identify what time zone a city is in. I work with customers from coast to coast and have to take their respective time zones into consideration when doing follow up calls.

Wolfram Alpha calculates intervals between dates, too. Try entering the span from the date of your birth to today’s date for a very frightening reminder of how old you really are. Or you can just enter the date of your birth by itself for some interesting information about your birthday, including the day of the week, names of famous people who share your birthday and even what time the sun rose that day.

You can also calculate the distances between two cities, such as the distance from West Palm Beach, Florida to Hell. I like the additional information it provides, such as estimated air travel time and the respective cities’ populations and elevations. This site really goes the extra mile to make its response to your query as informative as possible.

Wolfram Alpha helped me finally solve the nagging question of “If a car takes 1 minute to go 1 mile at 60mph, how long does it take to go one mile at 70mph?” I did an earlier blog post in which I further explored how long it would take to go one mile at various speeds.

This is just the tip of the Wolfram Alpha iceberg and it can do way, way more than what I’ve described here. Seeing what else it can do is going to be the fun part.

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