Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fantastic Find: Wolfram Alpha

Thomas MacEntee, of High-Definition Genealogy, Geneabloggers, and Legacy Family Tree Webinars fame, mentioned this great quick reference site, Wolfram Alpha, in his lecture at RootsTech last week.  The service has been around at least 4 years, but it was the first I'd heard of it.

Wolfram Alpha has the goal "to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone" and is designed to answer natural-language questions from the fields of mathematics, science, technology, statistics, finance, historical, and government sources.  For comparison, Google has offered some similar tools via its toolbar tricks.

Some nice genealogy-specific tools that can be useful on the fly:

  • map family relations,
  • use the date of death on tombstones and age of the deceased to calculate their birth date,
  • pinpoint dates (helpful when an article referes to "last Saturday" instead of an exact date),
  • convert Old Style dates to New Style dates,
  • decipher illegible handwriting by giving a list of possible words using the known letters.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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