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Emacs can’t do everything

Tonight something incredible happened: I asked Emacs to solve my physics homework and it couldn’t. If you think Emacs can do everything, think again: there is no (require ‘physics). Go solve assignments yourself.

You might be laughing, but this no joke. In the process of coding and writing fiction, I have canoodled Emacs into unzipping files, trailing log files, displaying inline latex previews in org-mode, disassembling java classes, and converting variable names between CamelCase and c_style. My Emacs also commits to git and ClearCase, displays a minimap, looks up synonyms online, browses local files, browses the web, reads my emails, plays typing games with me, and provides a more vimmy vim than vim itself. Hell, Emacs can even play chess.

I didn’t produce the above list from thin air. I looked in my .emacs and reviewed what Emacs has done for me lately. If Emacs can do all that – and I hear it can provide psychotherapy services over irc – then Emacs should be able to solve my physics assignments. Go figure.

(Now, supposing you aren’t an Emacs user, don’t you think it’s time you found out what Glorious Emacs can do for you?)

  1. Benjamin Otte says:

    Oh yeah! Good ol’ C-x M-c M-butterfly…

  2. YHVH says:

    Doesn’t calc do symbolic calculations? I’ve also used maxima in emacs. Maybe tell us what you needed and you can maybe you’ll get better advice.

    • Natan Yellin says:

      I really just want Emacs to go online, parse the questions, and do everything. If Watson can, so can Emacs.

      • TheGZeus says:

        I’m sure it has the capability to do this. I’m not sure your hardware could handle the resulting code/computation, as it would need some big-time RAM and one hell of a fast proc if you wanted it done this…year.
        Oh, the failings of a single-threaded application that can do anything…

      • Anonymous says:

        I wish everyone would stop talking about Watson like they suddenly know everything about AI.

        Short answer: No, no it can’t.

        Slightly longer answer: build yourself Watson, then you can write an interface into Watson in emacs.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Emacs is like gedit, right? :)

    *ducks*

  4. Olivier says:

    Surprised Emacs don’t have a plugin that speaks with wolfram alpha yet

    • TheGZeus says:

      I’m not. Fairly limited, proprietary service.
      Not quite the same audience as the flagship GNU software.
      Not sure how hard/easy it would be to make one, but likely relatively easy. Do it! Doooo iiiiit…
      …jk

      I don’t have the skill to write… anything useful, really, but I’m familiar with how emacs and various programming languages/interfaces/apis work. Just a disclaimer that I _mostly_ know what I’m talking about there… mostly.

  5. Stephen Smoogen says:

    What was the physics homework. Someone needs to work on an emacs module..

  6. Francis says:

    It probably will. You just didn’t ask the right way.

  7. Sam Thursfield says:

    I find that between my terminal and my desktop, I have most of that functionality covered already, for only a couple of extra keypresses ;)

  8. [...] Emacs can’t do everything Tonight something incredible happened: I asked Emacs to solve my physics homework and it couldn’t. If you think Emacs can do everything, think again: there is no (require ‘physics). Go solve assignments yourself. [...]

  9. multipryan says:

    hello:

    i offer a word of warning by appealing to your sense of reason.

    1- it must be true that the unix application ecosystem is more configurable + more powerful than emacs ever could be,

    2- by trying to solve all these problems in emacs first will inevitably make you an emacs master but less skilled using unix as a whole,

    3- being an emacs master is only impressive to other emacs weirdos.

    :wq