Monday, May 18, 2009


[Image Courtesy - SobelMedia]
I am sure that by now most of you would have either read the numerous reviews of WolframAlpha, an ultra-trendy new search engine by Stephen Wolfram and his team of distinguished scientists and mathematicians or tried comparing Wolfram's search results with those of Google/Live/Yahoo/Ask. Here are some of the salient (and cool) features of WolframAlpha that make it worth trying:
  • Highly Intuitive: Since, it relies heavily on the expert knowledge and statistics, some of the search queries give much better results than those given my other search engines. Lets say we wish to quickly run a comparison between Nissan and GM and we enter "Nissan, GM" in the search bar of WolframAlpha. Boom - it gives us the latest stock prices, market caps, revenues, earnings per share etc. of both the companies in a tabular form and within seconds you learn which company is doing better. Check this or this.
  • Highly Data Driven: Whenever, you need more information about some specific metric say a date, a town, a country or a formula - just put that information in the search bar and Wolfram fetches yoo the elaborate and related results within seconds. Seeking information about a city or an event is as simple as this or this.
  • Great Learning Resource: Haven't you heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I find WolframAlpha to be great resource for learning music or even sports. Check this or this.
  • Instant Weather Check: Real time Weather information is just a click away now. Check this.
And I am sure the list goes on and on. In a nutshell I would say that this new search engine does a remarkable job in searching, processing and fetching us back the systematic knowledge on the WWW. Lets wait and watch-something tells me that folks at Wolfram Research are going to come up with many more inovative features in the days to come. If you do find some exciting feature about WolframAlpha, do let me know. Till then
Happy Wol-framing :D

"All exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation."~Bertrand Russell

Monday, May 11, 2009

Three Two One...!

[Atlantis Crew - Image Courtesy - NASA]
and Go ! Yes, I am referring to NASA's STS-125 (Atlantis) that was launched at Kennedy Space Center in Florida yesterday. As I watched the near perfect shuttle launch at NASA TV late evening yesterday, I kept saying "Wow !" to myself and marveled the way science has progressed over the past few decades. While the scientists and researches keep raising the bar year after year, I wonder whether we (as individuals) can position ourselves right a growth curve with a positive slope (the more slope the better :)) on a regular basis as well?

Anyways, here are some quick facts about the mission:
  • STS-125 is on an eleven day mission to Hubble Telescope.
  • Its seven member crew will conduct five spacewalks install new instruments, replace thermal blankets replace gyroscope on Hubble thus making the telescope better and ready for the years to come.
  • Meanwhile space shuttle "Endeavour" at Kennedy Space Center is ready for launch as well (To rescue Atlantis crew in case of an emergency).
  • A Wide Field Camera 3 will be attached to Hubble and the camera will relay even more vivid and detailed pictures of the deep space to us on a continual basis.
  • Another new instrument that Hubble will be given is "The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph". This instrument is meant to observe the light put out by extremely faint quasars and see how that light changes as it passes through the intervening gas between distant galaxies.
Well if this feels like an overdose of scientific facts, here's a cool fact - Michael J Massimino (one of astronauts at Atlantis) is on Twitter (His Twitter ID: Astro_MIke) and intends to relay messages from the outer space ! I am incredibly curious (and excited) and will keep checking Twitter-sphere every now and then; After all you wish to be the amongst the first residents on earth to read his 140 characters of wisdom :D

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~ Albert Einstein

Friday, May 08, 2009

KGB to the rescue...!

[Image Courtesy - 20Life]

Now that summer season is officially in which means it is time to hit the roads, go on nature trails, enjoy the sunlight, wear those cool T-shirts and make new connections (friends) yet again! But when you spark a conversation with a stranger, one of the following two things usually happen:

(A) You learn in few seconds that you both share a hobby (Museums, Art, Photography or say writing).
VoilĂ ! you find an immediate connection and declare that your new friend count is N + 1.

(B) You both end up asking tons of questions to each other (spc. when one of the two people is of those nerdy types) and realize in the end that it's time to bid a warm good-bye :D

Mind you, either of these scenarios happen in split seconds but the one I am concerned about is Case (B). To me Case (B) is like a lost opportunity because if one of you had answers to those esoteric questions, you could have fostered a new friendship, a new connection and may be a new venture as well! Now you might as well ask that is there someone whom you can seek answers from right away. Well, without any further circumlocution - let me suggest you to check out KGB's website right away.

KGB has saved me many times in the past 2 months and I have become a big fan of the service ever since (It's blazing fast, accurate and reliable)! Before your mind start conjuring up images of Russian secret service or their possible association with me, here's a quick summary of how the service works:

(1) All of a sudden you get questions like the foll. in your mind:

Who invented Jeep?
Which non-software company houses the world's biggest database?

When was piano invented?
What kind of footwear do ninjas wear?
What is the toughest team game?
Which country has the lowest/highest GDP?
Who sells the best pizza in the world?

What is the temperature in space?

(2) You put the question down in your phone and send a text to kgbkgb (542542).

(3) Buzz, Buzz - you receive the answer from a real person within moments.

(4) You feel happier and contended :)
You might prefer using Google or Yahoo answers but in case your question is an uncommon one, this service can be quite useful. Infact, their website says that " In 2007, kgb served more than a hundred million consumers globally and answered over a billion questions." That sure sounds a bit(or may be a lot) impressive indeed!

In case you are still not convinced or "texting" doesn't necessarily jive with you, remember that calling up that super smart and intelligent friend of yours who always won those Quizzes back in school is always an option :)
Do remember to give an amazing present to your mother this Sunday and have a great weekend ahead !

"Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide."~Napolean

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Possible...!

Kudoz to professor emeritus James F. Crook for having devised an algorithm for solving Sudoku puzzles. Here are some quick pointers about his "Pencil-and-Paper Algorithm":

  • The algorithm is made up of five logical steps
  • It requires players to mark up empty boxes in the Sudoku grid with all possible remaining number and, by comparing number sets, to labour through a "tree" of options that ultimately provides a solution.
  • As of now, the computer takes takes over an hour to solve a Sudoku puzzle. (See humans always outsmart computers ;))
  • The paper text can be viewed here.

This algorithm is certainly an achievement in the mathematical world and reinforces the fact that almost everything that can be depicted as a flowchart is solvable by computers. After all computers have been known to be super efficient in deconstructing seemingly tough problems and hammering out their solutions using computing power!

What puzzles me though is how come human beings are able to solve a difficult Sudoku in just 10-15 minutes time while this latest algorithm takes an hour to crack a Sudoku puzzle? Is it our logic sense or intuition or just our imagination that does the magic-Well, I don't know! What I do know is the fact that struggling with my pencil (I don't mean chewing the back of the pencil over and over again ;)) and working out a Sudoku puzzle on a Sunday morning is an adventure in itself. And the "Ahaaa" feeling (emotional high) you get post solving a puzzle keeps the excitement and the desire to solve the next puzzle on :D

Happy weekend folks and good luck for today's puzzle!
"A moment's thinking is an hour in words."~ Thomas Hood