The BBC site describes Wolfram Alpha, a new web tool that may be “as important as Google” when it launches. It’s a service that tries to provide a direct answer to questions instead of returning a series of links to other locations that may hold the answer, as current search engines do.
The Wolfram Alpha site is due to go live next month and, if it does what it says on the tin, could be quite useful.
However another site, Start, has been providing a similar service since 1993.
I hopped over to Start and asked the question “what is dark energy” and this is the answer it gave:
===> what is dark energy
In physical cosmology & astronomy dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to increase the rate of expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most popular way to explain recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate. In the standard model of cosmology, dark energy currently accounts for 74% of the total mass-energy of the universe.
I wasn’t aware of Start before today but it looks like it could be very useful, as could the Wolfram Alpha site when it goes live. Both certainly look more useful than scrolling through page after page of search engine results when all you need is a quick answer to a (relatively) simple question.