James Burke's first Connections series drove home the idea that change in one area can have unexpected impact in far different fields.  The Butterfly Effect reminds us that the tiniest difference may lead to great changes.  The invention of the automobile was one event that led to vast societal changes no one could have predicted.  Television was another.  Then the Internet.  Within the Internet, there was Google, which may be the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in our time, who knows?  And now there is Wolfram|Alpha.

Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity.

Wolfram|Alpha is an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor that we intend will deliver increasing capabilities over the years and decades to come. With a world-class team and participation from top outside experts in countless fields, our goal is to create something that will stand as a major milestone of 21st century intellectual achievement.

Take time to check out the Stephen Wolfram's introduction.  The demonstration explains faster and better than I can the power of this not-just-another-search-engine.  It's still in its infancy, and I was easily able to come up with searches it did not understand.  But what it can do already is amazing.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10:30 am | Edit
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