Have you heard of Wolfram Alpha (also called WoflramAlpha or Wolfram|Alpha)? If you haven’t, you best do it quickly. Its going to be brought online in about 30 minutes from now. I can’t wait! :D
Wolfram|Alpha is an answer-engine developed by Wolfram Research headed by British CEO and founder, physicist Stephen Wolfram. It is an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer instead of providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer. It is an effort to make all the information known to man to be made available to everyone at their computational fingertips ;)
Cyc founder Douglas Lenat was one of the few given an opportunity to test Wolfram Alpha before its release:
"The resulting mosaic covers a large portion of the space of queries that the average person might genuinely want to ask. [...] It handles a much wider range of queries than [Cyc](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyc), but much narrower than Google; it understands some of what it is displaying as an answer, but only some of it [...] The bottom line is that there is a large range of queries it can't parse, and a large range of parsable queries it can't answer."
Wolfram Alpha is built on Wolfram’s earlier flagship product, Mathematica, which encompasses computer algebra, symbolic and numerical computation, visualization, and statistics capabilities. It is written in 5 million lines of Mathematica code and runs on 10,000 CPUs (though the number is upgraded for the launch).
You can watch the launch live on the Wolfram|Alpha launch webcast and you can see an Introduction to Wolfram|Alpha by Stephen Wolfram which shows you the basics of what will be available during today’s release. If that introduction video doesn’t blow you away, I don’t know what will (other than a F5 :P)
I do believe the Wolfram engine has the capability to be the next Google. I’m not saying that Google will lose out because it still serves a distinct purpose. If you need to find webpages, you still need Google. But I believe Wolfram won’t take time to eat up Google’s information based search market as long as Wolfram can solve their performance issues (load handling and providing good response times mainly).
Update: 10 mins since “release” time and all the Wolfram sites seem to be down. Even the blog. Another DDOS in the making and I’m not surprised. I guess users will have better luck over the next few hours/days :) Its a service which seems worth waiting.Created: 16th May 2009