Economics is…

posted by Stal on 2010.01.18, under Stal

Economics Is

A follow-up from prior discussion of AutocompleteMe and Why are [ethnic group]?


posted by Stal on 2009.05.16, under Stal

…is now live. If you haven’t been following the development, this is a new computational search engine that gives answers to queries like “What is the GDP of France” or “number of internet users in Europe?” It does this by using structured data sets as its index.

From Wired:

Type in “Pluto” and Alpha calculates the dwarf planet’s distance from Earth at that very instant. Bang out a series of letters like “ACTCGTC” and Alpha recognizes it as genetic code and tells you what strand of DNA that particular gene lives on and what we know about it. Wolfram has licensed ― or created ― a whole library of databases and massaged them so the information is pliable. (To date, they include Wikipedia, the US Census, and “about nine-tenths of what you’d see on the main shelves of a reference library,” he says.) Combined with the near-­magical abilities of Mathematica, Alpha is a powerful computational engine that can effortlessly answer queries that no one has asked of a search engine before.

Consider a question like “How many Nobel Prize winners were born under a full moon?” Google would find the answer only if someone had previously gone through the whole list, matched the birthplace of each laureate with a table of lunar phases, and posted the results. Wolfram says his engine would have no problem doing this on the fly. “Alpha makes it easy for the typical person to answer anything quantitatively,” he asserts.

Whether or not this is new next “Google-killer” remains to be seen, however it is viewed as potentially being Google’s salvation from anti-trust regulators at the least.

The first query I tried: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Video demo: Introducing WolframAlpha

Armchair Crimefighting

posted by Stal on 2009.04.23, under Stal


A series of crimes caught on Google Streetview:

For whatever reason, my block has not been added to Google Streetview yet. And for that I am very, very grateful.

[via GeekPress]