search – wolfram alpha going live – part 3

I stopped watching the webcast (see part 2) about two hours in.  While WolframAlpha may go down over the weekend, it is up now for experimenting.  In part 1, I worried about my first impression:

What is interesting to me is that it gives you the answer, but not the source. For calculations, there isn’t really a source anyway. I don’t cite that 2+2=4. However, I do cite the population of Germany. So how are we supposed to know it is right? On the other hand, I think showing similar information you might not have asked for is cool.

Turns out this isn’t a big thing to worry about.  WolframAlpha gives you the source of it’s answer.  For example, I searched for swine flu.  It told me the scientific name along with the number of cases and deaths over the last couple of days.  In addition to a nice pop-up and PDF to export the data, it has a “source information” link at the bottom.  This shows the data set used to derive the answer along with other resources one might be interested in.

As a source for learning, I think this is pretty cool!

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