You know that book you have been wanting to read all summer, but you just haven’t had the time? Well, we can’t help you find the motivation to read, but we can tell you how long it might take you to read it!
Say you wanted to read all five books in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.” That is a total of 4228 pages (using the US hardback versions). Plugging that into Wolfram|Alpha provides this:
Wolfram|Alpha calculates that it would take 130 hours to finish all five books, and 140 hours if an auctioneer spoke each book.
Now when you ask Wolfram|Alpha about the “word frequency history” of any word in English, you’ll see a plot of how that term’s usage has changed over time.
The word frequency history of a word can document when a common word, such as “web”, becomes more popular after gaining a new meaning.
It can also show how quickly a word can pass into common usage after the emergence of a new technology, such as “transistors”.
These plots may also show interesting correlations with historical events. For example, malaria became a large problem for servicemen in the Pacific during World War II.
(Raw data comes from the Google Books “English One Million” corpus.)