Units in Google Calculator

Asa is skeptical of the usefulness of Google Calculator. He uses something like the "ja" keyword bookmarklet, so he can type "calc 1+5" into his address bar to do a quick calculation. While that's great for arithmetic (and DOM), Google Calculator does a lot more than arithmetic.

My favorite Google Calculator feature is units.

  • Can't remember a conversion factor? Search for 1 foot in cm or feet in a meter.
  • You'll notice quickly if you multiply when you should divide or vice versa, because the units in the output will be wrong (1 volt * 1 amp vs 1 volt / 1 amp).
  • 128000 bps * 3 minutes is much less error-prone than trying to remember all the conversion factors, even if you ignore than 1000-vs-1024 problem. (1MB is 1024^2 B, but a "128kbps" MP3 is 128000bps, which I verified with a long "160kbps" MP3).

I also like Google Calculator's metric-centricness. Google knows I'm in the US, but a simple search for foot or mile gives me a conversion factor to cm or km, while searching for cm or km does not convert back. Unpatriotic? Maybe.

9 Responses to “Units in Google Calculator”

  1. Minh Nguyễn Says:

    Haha, I tried to get Google Calculator to convert Metric units at all, and I came up with this: http://www.google.com/search?q=1+centimeter+%3D

  2. Minh Nguyễn Says:

    Okay, I finally got it to recognize a Metric unit:

     • http://www.google.com/search?q=1+petameter+%3D
     • http://www.google.com/search?q=1+terameter+%3D
     • http://www.google.com/search?q=1+yoctometer+%3D

  3. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    To convert metric units, you have to tell it what to convert to. For example, http://www.google.com/search?q=1+cm+in+inches .

  4. Richard Lloyd Says:

    One interesting point – Google UK should really be defaulting to UK units surely? Here’s an example query that’s “wrong”:


    That’s a search for half a pint on UK Google, which should be “284.130742 millilitres”. Nope, we get:

    “236.588237 milliliters”

    Yes, it’s given me back the US pint conversion *and* spelled “millilitres” in US English ! Turns out I can get the imperial (UK) pint by adding UK to the query:

    (and still the spelling is US English, ho hum)

    Seems like Google can’t be bothered to Anglicise their new calculator toy for their UK portal (mind you, I’ve wondered why http://www.google.co.uk/ doesn’t default to searching for UK sites – surely you’d go to http://www.google.com/ if you wanted to search the entire Web?).

  5. Joe Grossberg Says:

    They also have mathematical constants like:
    * e
    * i
    * pi
    * euler’s constant

    Centimeter, schmentimeter; you can do stuff like 1 knot in angstroms per century.

  6. Eric Hodel Says:

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to know the difference in US feet vs International feet.


  7. Super_C Says:

    Here’s another useful google contant for you:


  8. Dave bowman Says:

    The hell with 1 knot in angstroms per century, I like:

    — cubic light years in bushels

    — angstroms per peck in hands per teaspoon

    — fathoms per fortnight in furlongs per femtosecond

  9. Anonymous Coward Says:

    How about acres per square furlong? Oh wait, that’s too easy…