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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?
