I think it’s pretty safe to say that almost everyone on the Internet these days has heard of Wolfram|Alpha, the “computational knowledge engine”. It’s a pretty fascinating, not to mention handy, website. You simply type in your query, “population of Argentina in 1980” for example, and Wolfram|Alpha spits out the answer. What could be more awesome?!
Well, what if I told you that Wolfram|Alpha also makes desktop PC and mobile applications that, for all of the notoriety that their’s websites received, I’ve hardly ever heard anyone talk about? And what if I told you that most of these apps were specifically designed with certain subjects in mind, such as statistics, geography, and chemistry? I don’t know about you, but I’d be intrigued!
Although all of their apps are great, I’ve picked a few I think you’ll really like and decided to showcase them here. Read on!
1. The All-In-One
First off, it should be noted that Wolfram|Alpha makes their generic engine available as an app as well. While this app isn’t specialized toward any one discipline, it’s still insanely useful as we all know. They publish their app for the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, the Nook, and the Kindle Fire, so no matter what device you use, you’re probably covered.
If you tend to use Wolfram|Alpha a lot, you might consider going Pro. While it’ll cost you $5 a month (just $3/month for students), you get all sorts of advantages, like increased computation time and direct data downloads. Anyway, onward!
Wolfram|Alpha’s astronomy app lets you see constellations and stars at a glance, as well as all sorts of information about them, like distance, parallax, and luminosity. What’s more, you can also find information about other celestial bodies, like how the Moon effects Earth’s tides, or how often meteor showers occur and over which regions of the planet.
Since most astronomy apps are basically just pictures of the night sky loaded onto your phone with little else to go with it, this one sort of takes the cake. It’s available for Apple devices here and for PCs here. There are some additional astronomy-related apps available as well: the Stars app and the Planets app.
I loved science class back when I was in school. Chemistry though, well, it still makes me cringe, and it’s because of the S word: stoichiometry. Ick! Even saying it out loud is making my eyes glaze over…
So it’s fortunate that Wolfram|Alpha’s made their chemistry app available to everyone, since it can perform those dreaded calculations for you. Not only that, but it can find the various properties of chemicals, elements, gases, and ions too. Check out the video below to see just how it all fits together!
There are some wonderful geography tools out there (Google Earth obviously springs to mind), but as far as accessing facts and figures quickly, Wolfram|Alpha’s Geography app blows the competition out of the water.
From within the app, you can discover information such as:
- Different map projections and time zones
- Weather conditions and climate history
- City, country, region, and continent data
- Economic indicators and social statistics
Math is one area where computers can really shine, and this trio of Wolfram|Alpha apps is no exception. Whether you want the Pre-Algebra, Algebra, or Pre-Calculus app, prepare to leave your old TI-83+ calculator behind!
From simply solving for x in an equation to trigonometric functions, you can’t beat this collection of apps. Here’s what simplifying an equation looks like:
Easy as pie! And much nicer looking than a graphing calculator too…
Wolfram|Alpha also has a ton of other applications, but these are the ones I thought would be most useful in a classroom setting. Definitely check out the full list if you’re interested though!
[All images courtesy of Wolfram|Alpha.]