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.