Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Search Challenge (2/17/16): How to find compound concepts

When you have the one perfect search term... 

... your searching is basically done.  Searching for ideas that have a single, uncommon term that captures the essence isn't hard.  Once you get that term--e.g., zymurgy, Sisyphean, or even boogie-woogie--your search is simple, accurate and fast. 

But I often find myself trying to remember both terms of a compound concept.  That is, two words that would be perfect together as a search query, except I can't remember one of the two words!  

The other day, I was writing something about traveling in the Caribbean and visiting the: 

     ______   Antilles 

I couldn't remember what the first word was!  I had a blank where I know I needed a search term.  

I knew it was the name of a country, but it took me 20 minutes to remember that the word I was looking for the word is "Netherlands," as in: 

     Netherlands Antilles

These are the Caribbean islands that belonged to the Netherlands; Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius. Once I got that term, the rest of my search was a piece of cake.  

This is a fairly common problem--you can get half of the concept, but have trouble recalling the second part. You often know a bit about what the second term in the compound should be, but can't quite dredge it up out of memory.  

That's what this week's Challenge is about: methods for using Google to help you find that second term.  

Can you solve these following Challenges?  (No fair if you just knew the answer off the top of your head.  But I'll be surprised if you know the answer to all three!)  

1.  A friend's child came down with a rare disease that involved an extended period of high fever.  She told me what it was, but I forgot the exact name.  Can you help me find it?  All I remember is that it's called _______ Disease, and the first word is a Japanese name that begins with either an "H" or a "K."  What IS the name of this disease?   

2.  I remember reading a book awhile back, that was something like  _________  Oranges.  All I remember about the forgotten term is that it's the name of someone out of Moby Dick (it's like "Ahab," but that's not it).  What IS the name of this book?  

3.  Somewhere in Europe there's a region of the Alps that has an odd, very distinctive name.  It's something like  M________ Alps.  (That is, the first term starts with an "M.")  It's not Mont Blanc, or anything like that.  It's just a single word that starts with "M." And as I remember, it's a kind of odd term to associate with the mountains.    What's the full name of this Alpine region?  

The point of this Challenge is really to bring out methods for doing these kinds of otherwise difficult searches.  Once you get the name, everything is pretty straightforward--the Challenge is to figure out HOW to get to the right name in the first place!  

So when you find the answers, be SURE to say what you did to find the first time in the compound!  

Search on!  

(P.S.  I haven't forgotten about the immigration / emmigration data Challenge from last week.  I'll write it up today and post my answer tomorrow.)  


  1. 1: Kawasaki disease
    Google search for [extended period of high fever Disease] => scan the hits: “Kawasaki disease” also called: mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome

    2: Ishmael's Oranges
    Google search for [personage moby dick] => SparkNotes: Moby-Dick: Character List ( => Google search for [Ishmael oranges book] => Ishmael's Oranges (ISBN 1780744943)

    3: Maritime Alps
    Google search for [Alpine region] => Alps article from Wikipedia => Geography of the Alps article from Wikipedia => Subdivisions of the Alps => Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps (

  2. Well the first question was something that I knew already. Kawasaki Disease. This was really in the news when my first child was little (think they made a connection to getting your carpets cleaned and the disease) so it was something I was aware of.
    The second question involved a book so I used the Amazon website and selected books. Tried just oranges to see if a book title would come up. That didn't work, then tried Ahab's oranges nothing there either then tried Ishmael's Oranges and came up with the book Ishmael's Oranges by Claire Hajaj. Will work on the last question after lunch in the library!

  3. confounding compounds… multiple paths possible, these are the three I used:
    1 • Kawasaki's Disease
    2 • Ishmael's Oranges by Claire Hajaj
    3 • Maritime Alps
    using key words out of your descriptions/recollections (all of which were accurate - not always the case with memory)
    then checked details to see if they were likely/correct answers…
    1 • used [*disease japanese] 1
    2 • looked up characters in Melville book, plugged in Ishmael & oranges 2
    3 • searched [alp regions], looked for an unusual "m" - French: Alpes Maritimes/Italian: Alpi Marittime/& Monaco 3

    fwiw: drawing a __ blank…
    Spaced repetition
    H* Ebbinghaus
    empty thought bubble

  4. I am a lazy person. I just tried these because they seemed easy to me. :/

    So here's how I found the answers:

    1. Search [ rare disease extended period of high fever ], browse the results snippets, on page 2 there it is: Kawasaki Disease.

    2. [ Moby Dick characters ] gave me a list on top of results. Try [ Ishmael Oranges ] and there it is, right on suggestions: Ishmael's Oranges by Claire Hajaj.

    [ alps regions ], among the results, gives the Wikipedia article "Geography of the Alps". Its section on "Subdivisions", though, is not what I want. So, back and try another result, the Wikipedia article "Swiss Alps". Under the section "Geography" there's a list of Ranges. So I guess that's the word I need.
    [ alps ranges ] gives Wikipedia's "Category:Mountain ranges of the Alps". There they are, alphabetically ordered. There's Mieming Range and the Mürzsteg Alps. The Wikipedia article on these tells me they can also be called Mürzstal Alps.

    1. Now that I see that all other answers point to the Maritime Alps instead of the Mürzsteg, I wonder what I've done wrong.

      I double-checked the WIkipedia's "Category:Mountain ranges of the Alps" and I realize I had been negligent in reading just the top section, which is for Subcategories and not for Pages in category "Mountain ranges of the Alps". So there they are too, together with the Mürzsteg Alps and the Mieming Range and some others that are not relevant for the question. So, after all, it seems that the answer can be either Mürzstal or Maritime Alps.

  5. Maybe not the best way to find the answers, but I was able to find all of them. Google can do a lot with incomplete information and with additional bits of information, starting letter/ distinctive name, really help.

    1. Kawasaki Disease: found by searching “Children's disease with Japanese word in name”. There were a couple of different results, but this one indicated a high fever lasting for 5 days as one of the most common symptoms.

    2. Ishmael’s Oranges: found by first pulling up a list of Moby Dick characters, then searching for books with the title _________ Oranges. Since Ishmael is the main character in Moby Dick, I started there and found there is a book with the title Ishmael’s Oranges.

    3. Maritime region: found by searching “alpine regions” which brought up a page listing the regions. Knowing that I was looking for one that began with the letter M and was distinctive made it easy to identify Maritime as the answer.

  6. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    This Challenge is something never thought about before and yes, it is one tool we use more frequently and always think about it as being there. It is so interesting and lots of fun to think how we search for those words and concepts.

    [search knowing second word] Results mention Onelook

    1. A friend's child came down with a rare disease that involved an extended period of high fever. She told me what it was, but I forgot the exact name. Can you help me find it? All I remember is that it's called _______ Disease, and the first word is a Japanese name that begins with either an "H" or a "K." What IS the name of
    this disease? A:Kawasaki disease

    [disease extended fever period japanese term]

    Looking results for K or L was easy to find.

    Signs and symptoms

    2. I remember reading a book awhile back, that was something like _________ Oranges.All I remember about the forgotten term is that it's the name of someone out of Moby Dick (it's like "Ahab," but that's not it). What IS the name of this book? A: Ishmael's oranges

    ["moby dick" character names in books]

    ["moby dick" character]


    [books intext:ahab intext:oranges]

    [book titles database]
    Quora; Is there a comprehensive book title database?

    ti:*** oranges Not exactly the best way to search. Searched in OCLC World Cat, titles that includes "oranges" tried adding *** to look for fisrt word but that doesn't work. Site shows books with oranges not first word oranges.

    Results: 136,814 looked page by page and in page 4, found the answer

    Ishmael's oranges And found relation with previous Challenge. Subjects: Immigrants -- Fiction.

    3. Somewhere in Europe there's a region of the Alps that has an odd, very distinctive name. It's something like M________ Alps.(That is, the first term starts with an "M.") It's not Mont Blanc,or anything like that. It's just a single word that starts with "M." And as I remember, it's a kind of odd term to associate with the mountains. What's the full name of this Alpine region? A:Maritime Alps

    [M* alps alpine region]

    High Alps, Wikipedia: Maritime Alps

    In one look [M*:alps]

    Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Maritime Alps

    ["M* alps" alpine region]

    [Maritime Alps]

  7. 1. I googled rare disease high fever and the sixth item was Kawasaki Disease.

    2. I did a works search for Oranges in Literature Resource Center.

    Ishmael's Oranges (Novel)
    • Hajaj, Claire
    • Novel
    Published: 2014

    3. I googled alpine regions and scanned a list. Maritime Alps jumped out.

    Here is a link to the map.,+12010+Vinadio,+Province+of+Cuneo,+Italy/@44.2315356,6.0991511,8z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x12cd06caa485c237:0xf02f21d6086786db

    This only took about 15 minutes.

  8. Niche challenge! :-)
    1st: Search terms: disease high fever japan. 3rd result was: Kawasaki Disease. and mentioned high fever and children being particularly exposed to the illness

    2nd: I tried with « book oranges title » but nothing really interesting there. Then I tried with « book oranges title moby dick »; at the end of the page, Google suggested Ishmael character as related research… so I tried adding it to my query, reformulated as « book oranges ismael » and it lead me to Ishmael's Oranges by Claire Hajaj (1st result).

    3rd: I know this one as I have studied it, it’s Maritime Alps. But if I had not known it, I’d probably had looked for the Alps page in Wikipedia, then continued to the page « Geography of the Alps », and there, in the section « Western Alps », I’d have found « Maritime Alps ».

    Have a nice day!

  9. First search
    [childhood disease fever]
    First two results, from, mention Kawasaki disease.

    Second search
    [Moby Dick characters]
    Top of page and sidebar list eight names of characters.
    [novel oranges]
    First this corrects spelling to navel oranges, and I have to try it again. Then I start subtracting the most common authors or title words, twice.
    [novel oranges –Winterson –blood]
    6th result is for Claire Hajaj’s novel Ishmael’s Oranges. This matches a name from the character list in the first part of my search.

    Third search
    Fails on [Alps region] and [Alps region names]
    [Alps regions list]
    First result goes to Wikipedia article that looks promising, but is only about Eastern Alps and doesn’t have a match. Clicking links on Wikipedia leads me to “Maritime Alps” in France, in about the 5th article I tried. This fits the question, but I’m not sure there wouldn’t be another answer.

  10. I'm surprised my fellow searchers didn't use the more "Googlesque" search method.

    1. ["high fever" "* disease"] -> Kawasaki disease #1 on the serp (I realize I was a bit lucky, searching just [fever "* disease"] didn't yield any quick result, but fever japanese [* disease] gives Kawasaki disease as #7 on the serp
    2. [book "* oranges"] gives Ismael's Oranges by Claire Hajajj as #1 on the serp. Even if I knew Ishmael was the narrator of MB, I just checked [ishmael "moby dick"] which gives the result.
    3. Being French I knew the answer but I tried to figure out a way to find it anyway.
    [* alps] nothing in regular search but the same search in books gives as first result "Walking in the Alps: A comprehensive guide to walking and ..." and in the description of the book (without following the link): "'This guide describes the whole Alpine chain group by group, from the Maritime Alps behind Nice to the Julians of Slovenia…"
    So Maritime Alps. Which is also the name of a french administrative division, the "département" (including the city of Cannes. Yes as in the festival of…)

    You can perform the last search by letting autocomplete do the job for you : typing [alps m] gives the same book as result #4 on the page with the description containing the searched term, but [m alps] gives nothing. And in french or italian, typing [alpes m] or [alpi m] gives the result immediately in the autocomplete list.

    Et voilà.

  11. I believe Google learns fast, too fast for some searches in fact. So I am conjecturing that two days ago [ "high fever" "* disease" ] wouldn't give Kawasaki disease on the first SERP (search engine results page). This also varies depending on your location and on your search history (I'm not sure about the latter). For me, at the moment, it's #2 on the first page.

    [ book "* oranges" ] gives me Ishmael's Oranges only when I get to page 23 of the serp (at 10 results per page).

    Typing "Alpes M" and letting autocomplete do the job for you is a great trick!

  12. interesting variance with auto-complete search results for #3 - [alps/alpes m] "…es" winner, winner, pollo dinner —
    subtle search difference with plural alt…

    1. I don't have so many results in auto-complete, Remmij. Did you search on mobile? Or have any way to get more? I only have 4. I use Chrome on Windows.

      Luis, [ book "* oranges" ] didn't work for me either. Not even searching only on books. I wonder why. I agree with Passager, that should work.

      About Maritime Alps, Dr. Russell wrote: "it's a kind of odd term to associate with the mountains." And that is why I think this is the answer Maritime is so not related to Mountains.

      ["Maritime Alps" name story]
      Maritime Alps are a part of the Alps located close to Mediterranean Sea

    2. greetings Ramón, non-mobile, , ancient safari version 5.1.10 (6534.59.10), separate search window… (I do run firefox & chrome too, depending on circumstances)
      "…About Maritime Alps, Dr. Russell wrote: "it's a kind of odd term to associate with the mountains." And that is why I think this is the answer Maritime is so not related to Mountains. "
      …that was my take on it also — correctamundo
      my mind is devolving (the 25th is worth a look too… my 'whine hole' is fatigued)

      Atlas rising
      female Atlas
      …and down the rabbit hole -- armillary sphere
      Atlas related: as seen by a meat bag…
      worth a look if you have a chance

    3. Thanks, Remmij! Your links as usual very good and super interesting. Nova Robots video is not available here, so will search for it with another link.

      While looking your Atlas link. They looked familiar and I now know why. Your article mentions "He also created MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte), a monumental museum with a collection of over 500 of his sculptural works, submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico."

      It is hoped the new sculptures will produce a coral reef system and attract a variety of aquatic creatures to the Cancun and Isla Mujeres National Marine Park.

      Trying to Protect a Reef With an Otherworldly Diversion



      MUSA Cancun


    4. You're right, Ramón and remmij. In my lazy hurry, I remembered the range had "an odd, very distinctive name" but not "a kind of odd term to associate with the mountains." So I guess Mürzsteg can't possibly be the answer after all. (On the other hand, I'm glad to have learned of a range I had never heard about.)

  13. 1. I entered [fever disease k] and auto-complete suggested Kawasaki Disease.
    2. I entered [book oranges a], then changed the "a" to a "b", then to a "c", and so on until I got to "i", when auto-complete suggested "Ishmael Oranges"
    3. I entered [Alps region map], select "maps" and looked at a map of the alps. The Martigny Region was right there.

    1. interesting past path… Dan has an eclectic group of readers… as Meat Loaf says, "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" (ML, 1977) - the surprise discovery is one of the things I find engaging about sRs…
      from the YT description: "A short clip from the movie 'Billion Dollar Brain'. It shows the operation of a Honeywell H200 computer from the mid 1960s. You would turn on AC, wait for all the cooling fans to spin up, clear core, mount several 1/2 inch tapes, load the card reader and then you are ready to compute. I maintained and programmed computers like this from 1965 onward.
      This is the first computer I ever worked on. I learned how to install and maintain a system like this back in 1965.
      It had 24K characters of memory, several tape drives, a card reader and a line printer. Random access storage devices were still a few years away."

      … 31 years before Google appeared -- and well before Larry & Sergey were even born… but not Meat Loaf
      what's a soviet? what are 'the virus-laden eggs'? Caine has had a great run
      oh, those eggs…
      nothing changes, just like today… ��♬♩♪ Donald Sutherland's voice… but no iPhone in sight… wuwt? Tim Cook sighs with relief

    2. I can't get any autocomplete suggestions from [ book oranges i ]. Not even [ book oranges ishm ]. Only when I type [ book oranges ishma ] I get ishmael.

      Also, [ Alps region map ] seems to be a good idea but, contrary to what I thought, didn't give me (on Google Images) a proper map of mountain ranges within the Alps. On line 4 of image results, I get this gif that mentions the "Alpi maritime": Map-Italian-Alps-West.

      (On Google Maps, though, entering [ Alps region map ] gives me nothing.)

      I wonder why several reports are giving results I can't replicate.

  14. 1) Hashimoto came to mind right off. Further investigation proved this notion to be incorrect. Tried this:

    [japanese disease symptom high fever] which produced many hits for Kawasaki disease; childhood, high fever..

    2) I used Amazon to look for book [oranges] too many hits. THen [moby dick character list] which Wikipedia supplied. I thought Pip seemed likely so back to Amazon with [pip oranges] Lots of hits on Five Orange Pips by COnan Doyle.

    3) [M* is a REgion in Alps] finds Wikipedia showing under an obligatory and curious history of Alps finds Maurienne; which googlebooks finds in pp437 Words and Places: Or, Etymological Illustrations of History, Ethnology, and Geography 1865. Apparently from the Moors who conquered the area

  15. Its curious to me we found not one but Two Moby Dick associations with oranges. Ishmael's Oranges and Five Orange Pips. Its been fifty years since I last read MB.

    jon tU

    1. …I was clueless on the 'pips'… but it planted a seed…
      the five orange pips
      one of the 56
      The Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
      the magic box will read the story to you* - most delightful
      *"LibriVox recordings are Public Domain in the USA. If you are not in the USA, please verify the copyright status of these works in your own country before downloading, otherwise you may be violating copyright laws."
      not to be confused with these Pips… also delightful

      thanks jon… led to an unexpected find/use of technology/communication amalgam…
      Ishmael would be proud
      a whale of a twist
      page one of sixty - so far

  16. 1. Kawasaki disease -- searched [disease high fever Japanese]
    2. Ishmael's Oranges -- searched ["**'s oranges" book]
    3. Maritime Alps -- searched [alpine regions] and the third result at had the answer.

  17. I was wondering about other roads to the results, and if, as Luís Miguel Viterbo pointed, Google learns fast.

    For the disease, I'm not sure Google learns from the searches, as it does in trends. I mean how can the algorithms know that when I look for ["* disease" "high fever"] the "kawasaki disease" satisfies me, even if I click on the link. And we are only a few in the ocean of searches. But I just tried the search in French ["maladie de *" "forte fièvre"] and in Italian ["malattia de *" "febbre alta"] and both give Kawasaki high in the first serp (in italian it even appears in the autocomplete list), the same applies in spanish. So? I suppose that even if there was a bias due to the searches (mostly made in english, I guess), the fact that in other languages the result is quite the same tends to prove that is was the right method.

    For the Ismael's Oranges, I supposed that if a book exists it will be on Amazon. I tried to make a site search on amazon and it worked perfectly: ["* oranges"] gives the good result as #3 on the serp. (in german ["* orangen"] gives the right book as #1, in french the book was not translated). Search with Google on Amazon seems to be a more straightforward method than to look for Moby Dick characters)

    For the Maritime Alps [parts of the Alps] leads to "geography of the Alps" on Wikipedia and there to the Maritime Alps. The page on WP being rather big, I did a search using a regular expression search plugin in Chrome, but that's another story…

    In conclusion, there's more than one way to skin a cat.