Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wolfram Alpha for Your Desktop

A couple of weeks ago I gave a short live demonstration of the computational search engine Wolfram Alpha. As I was wrapping-up the demonstration someone in the audience reminded me that there are some desktop widgets and browser extensions that put Wolfram Alpha at your fingertips. Acting on that reminder I installed the Wolfram Alpha desktop gadget for Windows 7. The entire collection of gadgets and browser extensions includes gadgets for Windows and Mac desktops, an iGoogle gadget, and browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera.

Not sure what makes Wolfram Alpha different from Google or Bing? Watch this short video introduction to Wolfram Alpha.


Applications for Education
Wolfram Alpha can be used for more than just numerical information. It can also be used to pull up a handy "fact sheet" on any number of topics. If students can quickly access these fact sheets of basic information they then have more time to delve deeper into research and or creating new things from the information they've found. Putting the desktop gadgets on your school's computers puts Wolfram Alpha at your students' disposal all the time.