Google Functionality Marches On

by Kieran Healy on September 5, 2003

There’s an old law of software development that says every application expands to the point where it can read mail. A little-known corollary is that Google can always do more than you think.

For example, try searching for expressions like 213 * 718, or 76 kilos in pounds, or even (G * mass of Earth) / (radius of Earth^2). Amazing. Wait till Brad DeLong hears about it.

Update: Naturally, the google calculator also knows the answer to life, the universe and everything. (Hat tip: Geek Notes.)



Robert Tagorda 09.05.03 at 7:03 am

Kieran, did you happen to catch the Washington Post article on the Google calculator a few weeks back? If not, check it out.


Chris 09.05.03 at 8:22 am


It seems to know about all sorts of archaic weights and measures too: cubits, pennyweights and the like!

“1 Healy in Instapundits” it rejected for some reason (probably the number is too large to compute).


bad Jim 09.05.03 at 10:03 am

Merely the latest manifestation of the eternal return of the command-line interface.

Which is probably a good thing.


Barry 09.05.03 at 12:13 pm

Brad already does.


Barry 09.05.03 at 4:21 pm

That’s wierd – when I posted, there were no other comments. However, my comment is listed after several others. Maybe I was on a slow connection :)


Kristjan Wager 09.05.03 at 4:47 pm

It has to be a very slow connection for it to take two to five hours to post.


Jeremy Osner 09.05.03 at 5:07 pm

When I saw your headline “Google Functionality Marches On”, I was expecting to read a post about Cthuugle


Robert Schwartz 09.05.03 at 5:28 pm

This is SO COOL!


Tom 09.05.03 at 10:15 pm

What’s that line about every large C program eventually containing a buggy implementation of Common Lisp?

I want to be able to pipe Google search-results to grep, and I want it now.


Steady Eddie 09.05.03 at 10:42 pm

What was disappointing about what Google found was that its identification of “42” as “the answer to life, the universe, and everything” stopped at Doug Adams’ cryptic mention of this… when Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) arrived at this answer approximately a century and a half ago. See Gardner’s “The Annotated Snark” for details (noting the significance of the number 42 recurring so frequently in Carroll’s writing — it’s the number the Butcher comes up with as the answer (to what?) in their walk together in the Snark, the height the King of Hearts ascribes to Alice in the Wonderland trial, etc.).

Dodgson ahead of the game again (and a likely pedophile to boot!).

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