A new kind of search engine is being developed that is being hyped as a strong challenger to Google's dominance of the market.

Wolfram/Alpha is a "computational knowledge engine" in development by British computer scientist Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, that will be able to compute the answer to any factual question.

Currently, search engines can carry out searches for terms and phrases in the text, but "we can't compute from that", states Wolfram.

"And in effect, we can only answer questions that have been literally asked before. We can look things up, but we can't figure anything new out".

Wolfram/Alpha's mixture of "many clever algorithms and heuristics, lots of linguistic discovery and linguistic curation, and what probably amounts to some serious theoretical breakthroughs", means, in Wolfram's words: "actually managing to make it work".

The new search engine, when available to the public in May, should be capable of understanding what it is you are asking and be able to calculate a precise answer to your query.

We will keep you posted.