It's been hyped by some as a "Google-killer", and after a period of invitation-only testing today Wolfram Alpha is available to the unwashed masses. It's been described as an answer engine, as opposed to a search engine, and describes its long-term goal as making "all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone... 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."
Not that I've been able to make much use of it so far. For example it doesn't recognise Scotland yet, other than as a historical kingdom that ceased to exist in 1707. (Insert your own joke here).
And following Sir Robert Worcester's presentation at the Centre for Journalism this morning, I've tried to interrogate it for current UK political polling statistics. No joy. I've also asked it to find web traffic statistics for UK national newspapers - again without success. I have a feeling early reviews - at least in this country - will share my sense of disappointment.
Still, as it develops and overcomes its severe US bias, we may find journalists gravitating towards Wolfram Alpha for some specific fact-checking.
One to keep an eye on.