Wolfram Alpha answers tricky pop puzzler "Where Is The Love?"

Digital Love/Hate/Indifference

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wolfram_alpha_where_is_the_love_cropWolfram Alpha got nerdlingers all tizzied up recently. It’s a new search engine whose aim is, modestly, to use its mad clevah algorithmix to “make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.”

What that means, as far as I can tell, is that Wolfram Alpha uses mathematics – previously thought to be our enemy, remember – to solve every question ever to plop out of the human dome.

Now clearly, the only questions we’re really interested in are those posed by pop stars through the ages. Questions like:

What becomes of the broken-hearted?

Who needs love like that?

Dancing at the disco bumper to bumper, wait a minute, where’s me jumper?

Excited at the prospect of finally having such queries answered, I probed Wolfram Alpha to within an inch of its bespectacled life. The results might politely be termed “mixed”.

First I tried to get the answer to a famous KLF brainteaser. I’ve always assumed that the answer to the question posed by their single “What Time Is Love?” was found in another of their smash hits: “3am Eternal”. Could Wolfram Alpha confirm this?



And it didn’t get any better when I tried to get to the bottom of No Mercy’s “Where Do You Go?” or Jagged Edge & Nelly’s “Where The Party At?”

A disappointing start, then. However, an idle enquiry as to who holds the title “King Of Pop” showed Wolfy isn’t quite as dumb as it was making out:


Encouraged by this, I tested Wolfie on more modern acts. Most drew a blank, but the result for Little Boots was interesting:


Turns out “Little Boots” is kind of a translation of the latin “Caligula”, which means Victoria Hesketh is currently whizzing around charming the pants off everyone while apparently being named after a tyranical Roman emperor famed for his cruelty and sexual depravity. Huh.

I took this as a sign to try one last pop-related query. One of the most enduring of the past ten years, too – Black Eyed Peas’ desperate plea, “Where Is The Love?”

And you know what, I got an answer! A bit.

wolfram_alpha_where_is_the_loveWolfie correctly assumes that “love” is a language (and is it not one in which we are all innately fluent, hmm?) and declares that it originated in Laos, south-east Asia. The birthplace of love is also, appropriately, the place where most people speak it. Laos must be a startlingly friendly place, but since its near neighbours include chucklesome China and cuddly Cambodia this is no great surprise.

So as I approached the end of my 10 minutes’ pissing about in-depth investigation, I felt satisfied that I now knew the origin of the language of love. However, time was now ticking on and I needed to get out of the smelly internet cafe and drive home.

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