A new tool in the search engine arena has today been opened to the public – Wolfram|Alpha. Unlike search sites such as Yahoo or Google, which attempt to catalogue the entire internet and provide links to anything you can think of, Wolfram|Alpha does something different – it focuses on the numbers, it’s a “computational knowledge engine” or as it says on the About Page –

We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.

For example, I asked WolframAlpha “how far from Stockholm to Moscow?” Instead of providing me with a list of pages where I might get the answer, I was given the distance in kilometres, the approximate flight time, a map, plus some other potentially useful information like the current time in both cities and their populations.

I’m about to have lunch, so I asked WA – how many calories in a pancake? This time I was given the average calories, some other energy measurements, and an interesting graph of where pancakes like in a distribution ranking of different food and the caloric content.

It’s going to take a while to learn when’s the best time to use WA over google, but I think this is going to be a great tool!