Wolfram|Alpha is live since last night.
What Wolfram|Alpha? Although it may look like a search engine characterized by its simple interface, Wolfram Alpha can more be defined as a knowledge base or an answer engine. This “Computational Knowledge Engine” as they call it has been developed by a team led by British mathematician Steven Wolfram.
The lon- term goal of the site is to make “all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone”. The site, which is very focussed on the “English-speaking knowledge” today, will not give you a list of web sites as a traditional search engine, but the answers to your questions in a structured form. A dream for every lazy student.
Multiple domains are covered, like for instance:
- Mathematics (obviously): from a simple number to a complex formula
- Chemistry: Properties of elements, structure diagrams of molecules …
- Sciences, Technologies
- Past and present weather
- Geography, Economics, History …
WolframAlpha is in that sense closer to a Wikipedia than a Google, but it is characterized by breadth and simplicity (try typing your IP address or domain name for instance, it’s another experience than through the conventional whois sites) of the presentation of the results. Some graphics, forms, maps, and you have basic information in seconds. And I actually really mean a few seconds, because the site is pretty slow, which will certainly improve with time.
On the other hand, the site is already available in iPhone version and offers a whole collection of widgets that allows me among others things to invite you to give it a try below (if the site does not crash, which also happens). If yu don’t see a search box hereunder, just go to the site.
If you need some inspiration to test, visit the example page.