If a computer can beat humans at Jeopardy, does it follow that machines can think? Is it possible to predict the spread of the flu based on patterns in Google searches? Did Shakespeare really write that sonnet? Scientists use patterns in language to answer these questions, using the same concepts that underlie such everyday applications as search engines, automatic translators, speech recognition, spell-checkers, and auto-correction tools. We examine these applications, focusing on the technological and linguistic ideas behind them and gaining practical hands-on experience and insight into how they work. No programming experience is required; students only need curiosity about language and some everyday experience with computers.