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Is Wolfram Alpha the new answer to Google? | News

A radical internet search engine designed to take on Google has been launched.
Wolfram Alpha allows users to enter questions rather than simply typing keywords. For instance, a user can type in Gordon Brown' and get a basic biography of the PM. However, you can also type in “how old was Gordon Brown when David Cameron was born', and receive the correct answer (which is 15 years, seven months and 19 days, apparently). Its makers say that by giving more specific answers it will be easier to use.
It also comes as Google's search engine yesterday hit several major technical snags, cutting off millions of users for several hours from both its search engine and email service. “We want to give our users an exact answer rather than just a page of links,“ said Conrad Wolfram, one of the founders of Wolfram Research.
“It does at first glance look like a normal search engine, but in fact we have 10,000 computer processors behind the scenes working out an exact answer. It will really change the way we get our knowledge, and we hope it will change the way people search online.”
The technology behind the site was originally developed for solving mathematical puzzles and has been under development for 23 years. It is currently widely used in the city for running risk analysis predictions. “We have been doing this for a very long time and we hope that expertise will show through,” said Mr Wolfram.
The engine also constantly updates its answers, for instance type in “moon” and it will tell you the distance from the Earth to the Moon. But it's not just the average distance you would find with a search engine, it's the actual distance right now, which varies from hour to hour.
However, Mr Wolfram did admit the firm had been surprised by the level of interest in the google beater. “We think we are ready, but there is a lot of interest, so we will have to wait and see I suppose.”
Experts say the site is likely to be used alongside google, rather than replace it. “This is a long way from being a Google killer,” said Tom Dunmore of Stuff magazine.
“However, it is definitely the start of the next generation of web searching. While Google is about showing you the information online, Wolfram Alpha tries to make sense of it, and that is very exciting.”

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If I had a penny for every 'next Microsoft', or 'next Google' announced in the press, I'd be a very rich man indeed.

- George, London

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