Riddle Me This, Riddler
Kirt's Cogitations™
#201 
Riddle Me This,
Riddler
Riddle me this, Riddler:
When is a search engine not a search engine? Ans: When it is a calculator.
Batman might have asked just that question after learning of the amazing
calculator and units conversion facility that is built into the Google
search engine. As an avid Google user, I have noticed occasionally
that I would do a search for some numerical or units related topic and
the result would include a simple, unexpected calculation with an answer
at the top. Since it happened again recently, I did a little investigation
and discovered that indeed there is a very extensive calculator built
into Google.
Open your favorite browser, go to
Google and type in "10
ohms * 5 milliamps" and watch the result: "(10 ohms) * 5 milliamperes
= 0.05 volts" Neat, non? Now, type in "10 ohms * 5 milliamps in millivolts
" for a result of "(10 ohms) * 5 milliamperes = 50 millivolts ." Neat
again. Now for an inane example of how it will present in any (valid)
format. Do, "10 ohms * 5 milliamps in milliohms picoamperes " to yield
"(10 ohms) * 5 milliamperes = 5.0 × 10^{13} milliohms picoamperes
."
Of course, the calculator is not limited to electrical calculations.
With builtin units like stones, cubits, grains, sidereal years, baker’s
dozen, and scores, there is a good chance the Google calculator will
calculate and/or convert just about anything you need. Anyone who has
taken a college physics course has been challenged to do the old "furlong
per fortnight" conversion when solving a speed/velocity problem. Your
$100 HP or Casio calculator might not have the units built in, but let
us give Google a try. Do "c in furlongs per fortnight," and voila, Google
gives you, "the speed of light = 1.8026175 × 10^{12} furlongs
per fortnight."
Did I mention the builtin physical constants?
Yup, as in the last example, Google knows that "c" is for the speed
of light. It knows that: "the speed of light = 299 792 458 m / s," when
typing in just the letter "c." Want Boltzmann’s constant? Type
in "k" to get "Boltzmann constant = 1.3806503 × 10^{23} m^{2}
kg s^{2} K^{1}." Need the elementary charge of an
electron? Type "electron charge" to get "elementary charge = 1.60217646
× 10^{19} coulombs." "eV" returns, "1 electron volt = 1.60217646
× 10^{19} joules." Want that answer in watt*seconds? No problem,
just type "eV in watt seconds" to get "1 electron volt = 1.60217646
× 10^{19} watt seconds." Of course, the units are equivalent
(1 joule = 1 watt*sec) so the number is the same, but you get the picture.
A couple more to amaze you: "epsilon_0" returns "electric constant =
8.85418782 × 10^{12} m^{3} kg1 s4 A2." Type "G" for
"gravitational constant = 6.67300 × 10^{11} m^{3} kg^{1}
s^{2}." You gotta love it.
But wait, there’s more. Google
calculator can convert between numerical bases, too. Easy example: "0b100000
in octal" yields "0b100000 = 0o40." 0b100000 in hex " yields "0b100000
= 0x20." How about this for you: "CLXII in decimal" converts from Roman
numerals to decimal, "CLXII = 162." If you would like that answer in
binary, then here it is, "CLXII = 0b10100010." By the way, it also does
the mundane calculations like trigonometry functions, factorials, roots
and powers, logarithms, modulo, etc. Even complex math is no sweat "(1i
+ 1) * (2i + 3)" gets you "((1 * i) + 1) * ((2 * i) + 3) = 1 + 5 i."
So, the next time you need a quick, easy utility to perform a calculation
and/or units conversion, just fire up Google . As with so many other
realms, the engineers there have managed to seize an opportunity and
improve upon it. The Google calculator outfeatures the majority of
the online and standalone versions out there. How much better is it?
Maybe "1 googol = 1.0 × 10^{100}" times better?







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