The C|Net News Google Blog entry explaining the use of wildcards in Google searches gave me a great idea for another small project.
'Fill in the blank' type questions can easily be converted into a wildcard search. A carefully constructed intermediary process could be used to tap the vast resources of the Google databases to provide real instant answers to straightforward questions. Once I release the initial version of my new semantic analysis engine, I will code up a PHP page that takes user input in the form of a simple English question ("What is the capital of Delaware?"), convert it into an appropriate Google wildcard query (the capital of Delaware is *), capture the output from Google and reformat that output in the form of an answer to the original question. The answers won't be 100% accurate, but it should be a bit more realistic than other attempts at natural language question answering.