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.
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 × 1013 milliohms picoamperes ."
Of course, the calculator is not limited to electrical calculations. With built-in
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 × 1012 furlongs per fortnight."
I mention the built-in 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 m2
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 kg-1 s4 A2." Type "G" for "gravitational constant = 6.67300 × 10-11
m3 kg-1 s-2." You gotta love it.
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 out-features the majority of the online and stand-alone
versions out there. How much better is it? Maybe "1 googol = 1.0 × 10100"