Today, 07/07/07, the winners of a popular vote to become the new world wonders will be revealed. Naturally, we’ve also offered our personal picks for the Seven Wonders of the World – Tech Edition. Let the debates begin.
has rapidly become a permanent cornerstone in the technology world, so
it’s an obvious first stop on our tour of the Seven Tech Wonders. The
building now known as the Googleplex was originally occupied by Silicon
Graphics, Inc. and purchased by Google in June of 2006.
Creativity was clearly a priority after Google took over – no expense
was spared in designing the luxurious environment. The Google
headquarters boasts two swimming pools, gourmet restaurants, game rooms,
free laundry and salons complete with a masseuse – definitely not your
average American office building. And leave it to Google to
over-accommodate their creative people: the amenities are all available
24/7, because the best ideas don’t always come between 9 and 5.
Check out photos on Flickr, Time’s pictorial or Fortune’s video tour. Maybe even run it past your CEO next time he or she is brainstorming employee incentive programs.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)
Industrial Light and Magic’s datacenter
is a wonder of the world in any category. Datacenters can be big, they
can be expensive, they can be complicated, and then they can be ILM. The
ILM facility spans 13,500 square feet with more than 600 miles of
network cables; a 3000 processor server farm (expands to 5000 after
hours from desktop computers); and about 170 terabytes of storage – all
bound together by a 340-node, 10 GB backbone. (For those who may not
understand just how big and how fast that actually is: the entire
internet doesn’t even run at that speed.)
The need for all this data comes from the digital effects of such
films as Transformers, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Since
creating the first fully computer-generated sequence for a movie in Star
Trek II, ILM has been on the bleeding edge of digital effects, and the
profits from these movies are vital contributors to datacenter upgrades.
Here’s a thought to wrap your brain around: if you’re downloading
movies or music on a T1 line (likely the speed of the connection at your
office) 24 hours a day, it would take about 25 years to download ILM’s
150+ terabytes. (Thanks Michael!!)
International Space Station (ISS)
Next stop on the Tech Wonder tour: the International Space Station.
If you look out of the left side of the bus, and maybe slightly upward,
you will see the ISS: the stuff Sci-Fi movies are made of. The model
for the station had been in the concept stages since the early 80's and
was finally put into orbit in 1998.
The ISS recently made the news
with what could have become disastrous: computer failure resulted in
losing thruster and environmental controls. After less than one day of
being inoperative, the computers were brought back online and full
control was restored. A power surge from the newly installed solar
arrays is believed to have been the major contributor to the failure.
The future is uncertain for the ISS, however there are plans for future missions
as far out as 2010. The ISS has been considered a pit stop for missions
to the moon and even Mars. And according to NASA, July 9, 2007 will
bring an announcement of a new mission to Mars.
Apple’s Retail Opus
As our tour bus makes its descent back to planet Earth, you’ll notice
a bright white light glowing from a glass cube in Manhattan, New York.
It’s the first Apple store to stay open 24/7, and is easily one of the
most remarkable sites the retail tech world – especially when compared
to the measly garage
where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer. The
grand opening of the underground concept store was hyped by Apple enthusiasts
worldwide, and drew thousands of gawkers on opening day. The store is
easily the most visual representation of Apple’s modern, clean design
experience. Take a virtual tour of the Manhattan store to experience it for yourself.
(Side note: The garage where the first HP computer was built was just
recognized as a national landmark. While HP’s inventions changed the
business world, the idea of creating a PC for the average user is
possibly a more groundbreaking feat, and the impact more profound. How
many of us remember playing Oregon Trail or Montezuma’s Revenge on our
elementary school’s Apple II? Personally, I loved Captain Goodnight!)
Fremont Street Experience (sound!)
Next stop: Vegas. The Viva Vision canopy is one of the flashiest
examples of technology you’ll see. Twelve million LED’s light up 1400
feet of canopy with 220 speakers producing 550,000 watts of sound
providing the music for each show. The previous setup for this light
show was controlled by 32 separate computers located in various kiosks
along the street. Since the upgrade in 2004, now only 10 computers
control the show from a central control room.
Hubble Space Telescope
Far away from the bright lights of Vegas, orbiting the earth at five
miles per second, this marvel of astronomy explores the deepest corners
of space. From Hubblesite.org:
The Hubble Space Telescope’s launch in 1990 sped humanity
to one of its greatest advances in that journey… Its position above the
atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our
planet, gives it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses
that of ground-based telescopes.
Hubble is one of NASA’s most successful and long-lasting science
missions. It has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth,
shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy. Its gaze has
helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and
the existence of dark energy.
final stop is probably the least well-known tech wonder. The monument
was dedicated in 1990 and sits on the grounds of the CIA headquarters in
Langley, Virginia. It consists of four encrypted messages, three of
which have been solved, initially by hand and then by a Pentium II
The final message requires clues other than the cipher on the
monument. The messages probably won’t make sense until the final code is
solved, when it is, the mystery to life will be revealed! Then someone
will just come up with another complicated, seemingly-uncrackable code.
Which wonders did we miss? What’s your favorite wonder?
Please drop us a line or leave a comment below.