5 Searches in Wolfram Alpha to Make You Healthier

Yesterday a new search engine, called Wolfram Alpha, was launched. Unlike Google, it doesn’t give you a list of pages on the Internet that might contain the answer to what you were looking for. Instead, it uses data kept in it to compute and answer your question.

To better understand it, here are 5 health related things you can “ask” Wolfram Alpha:

  1. Calculate your BMI: As you can see in the poll we recently ran (and that’s still open for your answers) and in the heart attack article, our BMI (body mass index) can tell you if you’re in a healthy weight range.

    To calculate your BMI in Wolfram Alpha, simply enter BMI followed by your height and your weight, like so:

    (If you use the metric system, you can enter something like BMI 1.75m, 70kg and it will work as well).

    You’ll get a few types of results there, one of them is a graphic representation of your weight, which will show you where you stand:

  2. See how many calories you’ve burned doing exercise: Say you just went for a run and want to know how many calories this just shaved off your body, just enter the details:

    First you tell it what you did (in this example “running”). We have to admit that it didn’t understand other things we tried here, such as jogging, swimming, tennis, But it did understand walking…

    Then you tell it how long it took, and the pace (you can also skip any of those if you don’t know them), then your height and weight.

    You’ll get an answer which includes many facts, such as the ones below:
    You can see how many calories you burned, and also how much actual fat went off your body. Another cool thing is that they show you how long it would have taken you to complete a race in that speed.

  3. Know your risk for a heart disease: As you can see in the heart attack article, there are a few risk factors for having a heart attack.  Wolfram Alpha can help you see how much at risk YOU are.

    Just enter the words “heart disease risk” followed by your age and if you’re a male or female.
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You’ll be presented with a form like the one above, letting you enter your blood fat levels and blood pressure, and letting Wolfram Alpha know if you smoke and if you have diabetes. After entering everything you’ll get the results:

The first thing you’ll see are your chances of getting a heart disease in the next 10 years (in the example above 4.6%). The second is a graph showing how your risk will go up as you grow older.

  • Interpret your medical tests: You just returned from the doctor with a page full of test results you don’t understand. Wolfram-Alpha to the rescue! You can use it both to just enter the name of the test and also your results, and see how you fare.

    For example, you got a result saying you have an LDL of 150. What does it mean? Let’s enter it and see –


    The first line shows you the range – 50-192. The graph below shows you where you stand (with 150, you can do better…).

  • Estimate your birth due date: You know when your last period was. You want to know when you’re supposed to give birth. Easy.

    Say today was your last period. The answer:

    Besides letting you choose the length of your monthly period (“cycle length”), Wolfram gives you the date you ovulated, as well as the due date (February 20, 2010).

  • A few others:

    1. Find out about a hospital: Entering the name of a hospital (for example “Mount Sinai Hospital”) will give you details about it. You can also compare hospitals (try “Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai Hospital”).
    2. Eyeglass prescription: Try entering your eyeglass prescription and see what you get (for example, “OD 1.5 cyl 0.5 x 49”)
    3. Life expectancy: Want to know how much you’ll live? Enter your details like so: “life expectancy U.S. male age 50”.

    There are even more useful things you can find out through Wolfram Alpha. Let us know in the comments if you discovered any of your own.

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