Computational Search Engine

wolfram_alpha

Although I knew about it when it was first released, I never really got a chance to play around with the new Wolfram Alpha search engine. Like many other people, I didn’t see anything significant about it. I would now like to categorically state that I was quite wrong in my assumptions.

I am now fairly certain that the claims about Wolfram Alpha being “the next big thing” are correct. Because it’s not just a search engine. It also computes combinations of input. For example, I can type in “iss rise indianapolis” and get back the exact orbital trajectory of the International Space Station, including its position relative to Indianapolis and the time at which it will become visible in the sky to anyone in the city.

I can type in questions related to Mathematical and Chemical formulas, and receive back detailed answers and a variety of useful definitions. I can ask for the weather in any place at any time, and receive graphed meteorological trends for the entire month. I can ask for the profits of any publicly-traded company and receive full information about stock value. In short, Wolfram Alpha’s computational power and usefulness grows with each upgrade. And needless to say, it definitely would have helped with my Calculus homework.

You can find the Wolfram Alpha computational engine here.

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Women’s place in Religion

As anyone who has studied the scripture knows, divine commands found in the Bible are often easily confused with human traditions that have simply been recorded in the Bible as well. Someone of simple-mind, however, would make no effort to puzzle out the difference between the two, and so would make the assumption that everything included in the Bible must be a direct command of God.

This is particularly troubling when we come to the issue of women. Paul wrote in his letters to Timothy that “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent”. Many Christians wish to claim that this is an actual divine commandment. This is typically a result of that Christian not using their God-given brains.

Which makes more sense- that God commanded women be silent, or that Paul simply included a typical first century prejudice in a letter that was later included in the Bible?

This was prompted by an article on the subject by former President Jimmy Carter. You can find it here.

“Free” Energy Market

Not that this is really news to anyone, but another, well-cited article has come out about the Oil Industry’s hand in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Apparently, an official government report was prepared for Vice President Richard Cheney by Shell Corp director Luis Giusti, British Petroleum regional president John Manzoni, and ChevronTexaco CEO David O’Reilly, among others. This report makes the case to the Bush administration that the US should depose Saddam Hussein in order to gain control of (and later auction off) Iraq’s oil fields.

The original article is here.