Riddle Me This,
RiddlerRiddle me this
These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced (no more than
5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
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Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted thought or
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
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
Open your favorite browser, go to
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
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
Did 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
." Need the elementary charge of an
electron? Type "electron charge" to get "elementary charge = 1.60217646
coulombs." "eV" returns, "1 electron volt = 1.60217646
joules." Want that answer in watt*seconds? No problem,
just type "eV in watt seconds" to get "1 electron volt = 1.60217646
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
kg-1 s4 A2." Type "G" for
"gravitational constant = 6.67300 × 10-11
." 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 out-features the majority of
the online and stand-alone versions out there. How much better is it?
Maybe "1 googol = 1.0 × 10100
" times better?