Still thinking unit conversions = a conversion chart + a calculator? Wolfram Alpha to the rescue!

So, you’re working along, deep in concentration, when up pops a value written with units that won’t be understood in the target language. What next? Do you:

a) Pull out an old battery-powered calculator and a printed conversion chart.
b) Use an online conversion chart and the infuriatingly crummy calculator built into Windows/OSX
c) Type your problem into Google and hope for the best…or

d) Consult Wolfram Alpha?

If you’re already all clued-up about Wolfram Alpha then you need read no further. However, if, on the other hand, you’re reading this wondering what the heck “Wolfram Alpha” is, then do yourself a favor and take a moment to read the relevant Wikipedia page (here).


Let’s say you’re looking to convert an area of 10 tatami mats, or “jo” (a standard measure of area in Japanese), to something more understandable in English, simply type “10 jo” (or even “10 tatami”) into Wolfram, check the ‘assumptions’ (located below the search box – in this case we’ll need to click ‘Use Jos area instead’) and hey presto, 16.2m².

Wasn’t that easy?

How do you convert units? Do you know of a method more convenient than the above?