My son Jake introduced me to something on the internet today that is simply amazing. I may be way behind the times, and you all may have already discovered this trove of treasure, but something tells me you haven't. Jake tends to be the first in our family to dig up these internet riches.
It is called Wolfram Alpha. You can find it at www.wolframalpha.com. It will blow your mind.
The goal of Wolfram Alpha is staggering: "Wolfram Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone." Whaaaaat? They go on to say, "We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries. " If that doesn't knock you off your perch, I don't know what will.
At first, you will assume that it is just another internet search engine. However, you would be wrong. The difference between Wolfram Alpha and normal internet search engines is that WA is building its own complex database from which computations can be made, increasing the likelihood that the answer you are seeking will be accurate. Instead of "googling" an answer and hoping the ehow.com answer you get is provided by a trustworthy source, you can go to Wolfram Alpha and get a definitive answer. Sort of like an unbelievably extensive and interactive World Book Encyclopedia, but way, way cooler.
I urge you to take a minute or 30 to explore the website a bit, after you are done reading this blog post. When you arrive at the home page, click on the word "Examples" under the search bar. This will give you categories of knowlege that WA allows you to explore. Even if you aren't a math/science person, the variety and intricacy of topics to discover is compelling. I guarantee you will not immerge in less than 15 minutes. If you do, it is either because you have a toddler tugging on your sleeve or something burning on the stove--certainly not because you can't find anything interesting to consider.
Whether Wolfram Alpha's lofty goals are attainable is beyond my ability to evaluate. It seems a bit crazy. However, they have already accumulated a significant number of resources. Consider that they have curated 10+ trillion pieces of data from primary sources with continuous updating, and accumulated 50,000+ types of algorithms & equations. And they have made it possible to enter questions in normal-person language, or "free-form natural language input." Any computer guy will tell you how significant this is.
Now, lest you think this is just one gigantic Wolfram Alpha commercial, let me just draw your attention to the title of this post. The only reason WA is this remarkable is because people are awesome. People are stunningly intelligent, creative, hopeful, energetic, forward-thinking, undaunted, resolute...the list is as endless as the day is long, and we haven't even begun to understand how gloriously we are made. God imagined us, and made us in His image (perhaps the imagining and making was all one step? Maybe God's imaginings are so complete and perfectly well thought out that they can't help but exist? But that's a topic for another day...) and we are the jewel in the crown of creation. We have the God-given ability to imagine a project as daunting as Wolfram Alpha, actually say, "yes, I believe we can do this," and then have the audacity to try!
People are awesome--and I use that word not as the deflated-balloon coloquialism it has become, but with the fullness of the Godhead joyfully infusing it, solidly supporting it, shouting it out, making it new. In daily life as you encounter less-than-stellar examples of human interaction (road rage, line-cutting, foul language, rude service--to name the most benign examples) try to see each person as a miracle of God's creativity, with unlimited worth. Don't ever let the fact that we are creatures who have also fallen short of God's glory blind you to the magnificence of being created in God's image, the mind-boggling, singular, universally bestowed characteristic of human beings. Can you even begin to imagine the joy in heaven and the new earth when we are free from the entanglements of sin and free to be fully, gloriously human? God knows what we can be--thank Him for not forgetting us! Thank Him! Thank Him!
Now, go out and do something amazing!!