May 15 2009

Spinster aunt grossed out by example computation in WolframAlpha intro vid

WolframAlpha grosses me out

It doesn’t understand “golden retriever” but orange juice and cheese, hell yeah. Would I like to supersize that?


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  1. Notorious Ph.D.

    I am amused at the sample computation labeled “define happy.” I clicked on it with high hopes for some Big Answers, but all I got was a lousy thesaurus.

  2. ambivalent academic

    What are the standard units of a golden retriever? Inquiring minds demand an answer!

  3. Orange

    I asked it “labrador retriever + poodle.” It doesn’t know what to do with that, either. It has better luck hedging on how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if it could chuck wood (just as much as it could).

  4. yttik

    Ha, you have now exceeded my realm of experience. WolframAlpha what?? I’m still struggling to grasp the concept of Twitter and cell phone texting, both of which completely elude me. I get the concepts but quite simply, why would anyone want to spend their time doing these things?

  5. rootlesscosmo

    For a critical opinion of Stephen Wolfram, the guiding genius of Wolfram|Alpha, see


    by a very smart mathematician named Cosma Shalizi. Math- and/or science-savvy blamers will be qualified (as ol’ rootless isn’t) to evaluate Wolfram’s claims and Shalizi’s takedown of them; knowing Cosma personally, though, I’m inclined to think he probably wouldn’t be so harsh if there weren’t plenty of reason. None of this is immediately relevant to Wolfram|Alpha itself, but the “About” page cites Wolfram’s book A New Kind of Science which Cosma finds less impressive than its author seems to believe.

  6. Nolabelfits

    I must be an idiot or something because I don’t undertand what the hell it is.

  7. pheenobarbidoll

    I saw a horny toad today!!!

  8. hero

    The new banner! I laughed, I cried, it was better than “Cats”!

    Twisty I love you!

  9. Pinko Punko

    I really wish you would make the suffering of those of us in the world just a little less by instituting a rotating header situation. There have been so many good ones, in fact I love them all. The newest is always the greatest, I guess.

  10. slythwolf

    I never seem to notice a new header until someone else points it out. I’m always scrollin’ down to the words part, I guess, eager to see if Twisty has posted anything new since my last visit. A thought occurs: possibly I scroll down before the image has a chance to load.

  11. Barn Owl

    I don’t grok the thing at all. I asked it a simple question:

    “War, what is it good for?”

    And received no response. I then decided that it might better understand queries that contained numbers. So I tried again:

    “25 or 6 to 4”
    “party like it’s 1999”
    “when I’m 64”

    Nothing. Nada. Nichts. It’s as useful to me as is Twitter, apparently.

  12. Pinko Punko

    As far as I can tell it aims to be a book of facts, but maybe an eensy bit more dynamic than that cuz it can do some math. I think they maybe overhyped this one, alas, that is the name of the game for Mr. Wolfram. That book of his is quite a tome, and I suspect very few people made it past the first few pages.

  13. Jen

    What’s the problem here? I’m pretty sure that, in the UK, cheese and orange juice is a popular flavor of potato chips – sorry, crisps.

  14. Marie-Elise

    Jen –

    Ha! UK supermarkets are currently trialling crisp flavours Chilli & Chocolate, Builders’ Breakfast, Onion Bhaji, Fish & Chips, and others.

  15. Nolabelfits

    I love onion Bhajis. Haven’t been able to find one in all of America. Yet.

  16. Jess

    They once did limited edition marmite flavour crisps. And baked bean flavour. Marie-Elise, you missed out Cajun Squirrel.

    Cheese and orange juice would hardly be exciting.

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