Thursday, August 07, 2008


I just tried out Cuil, a new search engine, that strives to be at the very least different from Google. Notably, it lists 11 search results per site, not 10. Besides this, it offers pictures and a box 'Explore by Category'.

Searching for "Sabine Hossenfelder", the result is outright bizarre. It brings up a selection of vaguely related pictures splattered over the site. Such as the book cover of "L'equation Bogdanov" that confusingly links to Tommaso Dorigo's blog, a photo of a water vapor bubble that I've used in my post Water on Zero Gravity that however links to a newsfeed about a talk I've given at a SUSY conference, a photo of PI's building, and the book cover of Peter Woit's "Not Even Wrong". Cuil finds my homepage, but misses the main page of this blog - it just brings up various posts I've written.

The offered 'categories' to explore are in this order

1.) "Quantum Gravity Physicists" On mouseover you are offered the following five names: Lee Smolin, Rafael Sorkin, Martin Bojowald, Abbay Ashtekar and Giovanni Amelino-Camelia.

2.) "String Theorists", with the exhaustive selection Lubos Motl, Leonard Susskind, David Gross, Jacques Distler, and Michael Atiyah.

3.) "Cosmologists", represented by Lee Smolin, Paul Steinhard and Martin Bojowald again.

The fourth category is "Fundamental Physics Concepts" which isn't a bad association, and the fifth is "British Mathematicians" for reasons that are a mystery to me. How is your try?


  1. Bottom line being, Google does a better job. I use countless search engines in my field, Google taking the cake. I would enjoy nothing more than breaking my dependence on Google, but the chance hasn't presented itself.

  2. Hi Nikko,

    Agree with you. As to my concerns, see also the earlier post The Spirits that We Called. Otoh, one has to see where it goes, it's only been up very briefly, we should give them some time to develop the full potential of that alternative before discarding it. Best,


  3. Well, a search for my name with wonky capitalization is more relevent than without, including finding my main blog page, such as it is.

    I recognize about half of the images, but the image links seem to go to the same place as the results, so I'm not sure how one is supposed to follow up on the variety there. It is a bit strange to see portraits of colleagues next to ones own postings.

    It also seems pretty good at finding logos from related but competing projects to illustrate links.

  4. When I searched my full name, the original results were almost useless (and I have an uncommon last name). But, when I turned "safe search" off, the results for my name were a bit better (and no, I don't have that fun a job). I wonder what that's about?

  5. maybe they have a fun definition of 'safe'?

  6. Searching for "Sabine Hossenfelder", the result is outright bizarre.

    Naturally! She's diffused over a dozen social networks :)

    Sorry, Bee, but couldn't resist.

    Anyone remember Altavista? Who'd have thought google would end its reign?

  7. You might try Surfwax for deep web searches sometime. It appears maintained and it actually seems to find grey literature. Most deep web search engines will fail or not work at all.

  8. Hi Bee,

    I'll stick to Google. After searching
    "Physics Blogs" on Google your site appears on the first page just after that fellow's who we won't mention. On Cuil you are no where to be found. It seems they only recognize "word press" blogs and rank things highly first simply if the term is in the URL line. All sizzle amd no steak I'm afraid.




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