Then I headed to the NY Times article mentioned. However, what I saw was very disappointing.
My initial thought was that the article was written by a non-technologist or at least someone who was not well-read in the impact the web has had on our society, but alas the author is an accomplished author in the field. There are two significant issues I have with this "Tip of the Week": 1) Is this what is considered Higher Math and 2) Have you heard of WolframAlpha? For the former I guess it could be perspective. As a self-proclaimed nerd, a mathematics major in college, and a math teacher, I could be biased. That said, I still think it is misleading to categorize this as "Higher Math."
I won't beat on that answer because it really is the lesser of the two evils for this article. Instead I want to focus on the overlooked gem that is WolframAlpha, the computational knowledge engine. Even had the title of this article been, Using Search Engines to Do Math Computations, I would still be just as surprised that the author failed to include WolframAlpha as part of the "gadgetwise" tip of the week. For example the same question posed to WolframAlpha:
Because this site leverages the power of Mathematica, it has the ability to generate far more meaningful information about this calculation. However stopping at simple calculations would be a mistake. Here are some more advanced calculations: Integral Calculus
However advanced calculations are significantly less than 1% of the amazing stuff that WolframAlpha can do.
Now that is a "search engine" that can do higher math. On a final note, I will leave you with my favorite feature: recipe analysis (e.g. ginger dressing). In the comments, feel free to leave your favorite WolframAlpha search.