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How Google Works -

The life span of a Google query
"The life span of a Google query is less then 1/2 second, and involves quite a few steps before you see the most relevant results. Here's how it all works."

[WEBSITE] - a more complete explaination.
"Every day Google answers more than one billion questions from people around the globe in 181 countries and 146 languages. 15% of the searches we see everyday we've never seen before. Technology makes this possible because we can create computing programs, called "algorithms", that can handle the immense volume and breadth of search requests."