Top Ten Wonders of the Modern World

Top Ten Wonders of the Modern World

Burj Khalifa1Golden Gate Bridge1Sydney Opera House

  1. Hubble Telescope

    The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a space shuttle in April 1990. It is named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble. Although not the first space telescope, Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile, and is well-known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923. Hubble was funded in the 1970’s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems and the Challenger disaster. When finally launched in 1990, scientists found that the main mirror had been ground incorrectly, severely compromising the telescope’s capabilities. However, after a servicing mission in 1993, the telescope was restored to its intended quality. Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely sharp images with almost no background light. Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field image, for instance, is the most detailed visible-light image ever made of the universe’s most distant objects. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe. Hubble is the only telescope ever designed to be serviced in space by astronauts. Four servicing missions were performed from 1993–2002, but the 5th was canceled on safety grounds following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. However, after spirited public discussion, NASA administrator Mike Griffin approved one final servicing mission, completed in 2009. The telescope is now expected to function until at least 2014, when its ‘successor,’ the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is due to be launched.
    Links: The Universe, Top Ten Wonders of Space, Top Ten Hubble Photographs, Top Ten Telescopes, Top Ten Personal Telescopes,
  2. CERN, Switzerland
    The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border. Established in 1954, the organization has 20 European member states. The term CERN is also used to refer to the laboratory itself, which employs just under 2,400 full-time employees, as well as some 7,931 scientists and engineers representing 608 universities and research facilities and 113 nationalities. CERN’s main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. Numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN by international collaborations to make use of them. It is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web. The main site at Meyrin also has a large computer center containing very powerful data-processing facilities primarily for experimental data analysis and, because of the need to make them available to researchers elsewhere, has historically been a major wide area networking hub. The CERN sites, as an international facility, are officially under neither Swiss nor French jurisdiction. Member states’ contributions to CERN for the year 2008 totaled CHF 1 billion (approximately € 664 million).
    Links: Top Ten Swiss Attractions, Science, Top 100 PeopleTop 100 ScientistsTop Ten Physicists, Top Ten LaboratoriesSculptures,,
  3. Network of Worldwide Underground Cities/Bases
    Network of Worldwide Underground CitiesBasesNetwork of Worldwide Underground CitiesBases1Network of Worldwide Underground CitiesBases2 Network of Worldwide Underground CitiesBases3Network of Worldwide Underground CitiesBases4Network of Worldwide Underground CitiesBases5Network of Worldwide Underground CitiesBases6
    Located all over the world, citizens tax money has been spent on creating these deep underground bases/cities for the past few decades dating back to at least the 1950’s. They are created by among other ways, by underground nuclear blasts, as well as by advanced tunneling devices, which can dig an estimated 7 miles an hour, leaving behind a hard glasslike structure that can support itself with further reinforcements. These tunneling machines are further used to connect these underground facilities, creating a massive underground base/city network.
    Links: Top Ten Military Bases,
  4. Channel Tunnel, England and France
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    The Channel Tunnel is a 50.5 km-long rail tunnel beneath the English Channel at the Straits of Dover. It connects Dover, Kent in England with Calais, northern France. The undersea section of the tunnel is unsurpassed in length in the world. A proposal for a Channel tunnel was first put forward by a French engineer in 1802. In 1881, a first attempt was made at boring a tunnel from the English side; the work was halted after 800 m for political reasons. Again in 1922, English workers started boring a tunnel, and advanced 120 m before it too was halted for political reasons. The most recent attempt was begun in 1987, and the tunnel was officially opened in 1994. At completion it was estimated that the project cost around $18 billion. It has been operating at a significant loss since its opening, despite trips by over 7 million passengers per year on the Eurostar train, and over 3 million vehicles per year.
    Links: Top Ten French Attractions, Top Ten English Attractions, Top Ten Tunnels,,
  5. Burj Khalifa, UAE
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    Burj Khalifa, known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004 and was completed on 1 October 2009, with the official opening occurring on 4 January 2010. The building is part of the 2 square km (490-acre) flagship development called Downtown Burj Khalifa at the “First Interchange” along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai’s main business district. The tower’s architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago. Adrian Smith, who started his own firm in 2006, was the chief architect and Bill Baker was the chief structural engineer for the project. The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea, who also built the Taipei 101 and Petronas Twin Towers. Under UAE law, the Contractor and the Engineer of Record, Hyder Consulting, is jointly and severally liable for the performance of Burj Khalifa. The total cost for the Burj Khalifa project was about $1.5 billion (US); and for the entire new “Downtown Dubai,” $20 billion (US). Office space goes for $4,000 per sq ft (over $43,000 (US) per square m) and that the Armani Residences were selling for $3,500 (US) per square ft (over $37,500 (US) per square m). With Dubai itself mired in a deep financial crisis that forced it to seek repeated billion-dollar bailouts from its oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, the opening ceremony and surprise renaming of the tower to Burj Khalifa, after UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been viewed by observers as an “attempt to boost confidence in Dubai by showing who is backing Dubai.”
    Links: Top Ten UAE Attractions, Architecture, Architecture by Type/Use, Top Ten Towers, Top 100 Buildings, Top Ten Tallest Buildings,,
  6. Panama Canal (1880-1914)
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    The Panama Canal is a 77 km (48 mi) ship canal that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in the canal’s early days to 14,702 vessels in 2008, displacing a total 309.6 million Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (5,900 mi), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn. The concept of a canal near Panama dates to the early 16th century. The first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership, but was abandoned after 21,900 workers died, largely from disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. The United States launched a second effort, incurring a further 5,600 deaths but succeeding in opening the canal in 1914. The US controlled the canal and the Canal Zone surrounding it until the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties provided for the transition of control to Panama. From 1979 to 1999 the canal was under joint US-Panamanian administration and from 31 December 1999 command of the waterway was assumed by the Panama Canal Authority, an agency of the Panamanian government. While the Pacific Ocean is west of the isthmus and the Atlantic to the east, the 8 to 10 hour journey through the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic is one from southeast to northwest. This is a result of the isthmus’s “curving back on itself” in the region of the canal.
    Links: Top Ten Panamanian Attractions, Top Ten Canals,
  7. Sydney Opera House, Australia
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    Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre on Bennelong Point in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who, in 2003, received the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor. The citation stated: “There is no doubt that the Sydney Opera House is his masterpiece. It is one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world, a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.” Currently, it is the most recently constructed World Heritage Site to be designated as such, sharing this distinction with such ancient landmarks as Stonehenge and the Giza Necropolis. It is one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings and one of the most famous performing arts centers in the world. Sydney Opera House is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbor, close to the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Contrary to its name, the building houses six venues. The two largest venues, the Opera Theatre and Concert Hall, are housed in the two larger sets of shells. Three smaller theatres, the Drama Theatre, Playhouse and Studio are situated on the western side of the building, and the Utzon Room on the eastern side. The award winning Guillaume at Bennelong restaurant occupies the smaller set of shells. As one of the busiest performing arts centers in the world, providing over 1,500 performances each year attended by some 1.2 million people, Sydney Opera House promotes and supports many performing arts companies including the four key resident companies Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Symphony. Sydney Opera House also presents more than 700 of its own performances annually that offer an eclectic mix of artistic and cultural activities for all ages from the educational to the experimental. It is also one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, with more than 7 million people visiting the site each year.
    Links: Top Ten Australian Attractions, Architecture, Architecture by Type/Use, Top Ten Architectural Works by Jørn Utzon, Top Ten Opera Houses,,
  8. CN Tower, Canada
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    The CN Tower, located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is a communications and observation tower standing 553.3 m (1,815 ft) tall. It surpassed the height of the Ostankino Tower while still under construction in 1975, becoming the tallest free-standing structure on land in the world for the next 31 years. On September 12, 2007 the CN Tower was surpassed in height by Burj Khalifa. It remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the signature icon of Toronto’s skyline and a symbol of Canada, attracting more than two million international visitors annually. Though Burj Khalifa is the tallest free-standing structure, the CN Tower remains the world’s tallest tower, according the Guinness Book of World Records 2010, although the Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower surpassed the height of the CN Tower in 2009. CN originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. Following the railway’s decision to divest non-core freight railway assets, prior to the company’s privatization in 1995 it transferred the tower to the Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation responsible for real estate development.
    Links: Top Ten Canadian Attractions, Architecture, Top Ten Towers, Top 100 Buildings, Top Ten Tallest Buildings, Cities, Top Ten Cities, Top Ten North American Cities,
  9. Empire State Building, New York, USA (1931)
    Empire State BuildingEmpire State Building1Empire State Building2
    The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark Art Deco skyscraper in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Its name is derived from the nickname for the state of New York, The Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for more than forty years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center’s North Tower was completed in 1972. The building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 2007, it was ranked number one on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. The building is owned and managed by W&H Properties. The Empire State Building is the third tallest skyscraper in the Americas (after the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and Trump International Hotel and Tower both in Chicago), and the 15th tallest in the world. It is also the 4th tallest freestanding structure in the Americas. The Empire State building is currently undergoing a $120 million renovation in an effort to transform the building into a more energy efficient and eco-friendly structure.
    Links: Top Ten US Attractions, Architecture, Top Ten Towers, Top 100 Buildings, Top Ten Tallest Buildings, Top Ten Works of Art by Andy Warhol,,
  10. Dubai World Islands and Palm Island, UAE
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    The World is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a map of the landmasses of the Earth, located 4 km (2.5 mi) off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The World islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters, and are one of several artificial island developments in Dubai. The World’s developer is Nakheel Properties, and the project was originally conceived by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. The Palm Islands are artificial islands in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on which major commercial and residential infrastructure will be constructed. They are being constructed by Nakheel Properties, a property developer in the United Arab Emirates, who hired Belgian and Dutch dredging and marine contractor Jan De Nul and Van Oord, some of the world’s specialists in land reclamation. The islands are the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Deira. Each settlement will be in the shape of a palm tree, topped with a crescent, and will have a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centers. The Palm Islands are located off the coast of The United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf and will add 520 kilometers of beaches to the city of Dubai. The first two islands will comprise approximately 100 million cubic meters of rock and sand. Palm Deira will be composed of approximately 1 billion cubic meters of rock and sand. All materials will be quarried in the UAE. Among the three islands there will be over 100 luxury hotels, exclusive residential beach side villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas.
    Links: Top Ten UAE Attractions, Islands, Top Ten Islands,,
  11. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA
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    The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. As part of both US Route 101 and California State Route 1, it connects the city of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed during the year 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. Since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges. It still has the second longest suspension bridge main span in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. In 1999, it was ranked 5th on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
    Links: Top Ten US AttractionsTop Ten Bridges, Top Ten American Architectural Works,,
  12. Itaipu Dam, Brazil and Paraguay
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    The Itaipu Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The name “Itaipu” was taken from an isle that existed near the construction site. In the Guarani language, Itaipu means “the sound of a stone.” The American composer Philip Glass has also written a symphonic cantata named Itaipu, in honour of the structure. The dam is second only to the Three Gorges Dam in its generating capacity. It is a bi-national undertaking run by Brazil and Paraguay at the Paraná River on the border section between the two countries, 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the Friendship Bridge. The project ranges from Foz do Iguaçu, in Brazil and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, in the south to Guaíra and Salto del Guaíra in the north. The installed generation capacity of the plant is 14 GW, with 20 generating units providing 700 MW each. In 2008 the plant generated a record 94.68 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), supplying 90% of the energy consumed by Paraguay and 19% of that consumed by Brazil.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten Paraguayan Attractions, Top Ten Emerging Energy Technologies, Top Ten Dams,,
  13. Delta Works, The Netherlands
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    The Delta Works are a series of constructions built between 1950 and 1997 in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes and storm surge barriers. The aim of the project was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised.
    Links: Top Ten Dutch Attractions,,
  14. The Millau Viaduct, France

    The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the valley of the river Tarn near Millau in southern France. Designed by the French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, it is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast’s summit at 343.0 m (1,125 ft) above the base of the structure. It is the 12th highest bridge deck in the world, being 270 m (890 ft) between the road deck and the ground below. Millau Viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Montpellier. Construction cost was approximately €400 million. It was formally inaugurated on 14 December 2004, and opened to traffic on the 16th. The bridge has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time. The bridge received the 2006 International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Outstanding Structure Award.
    Links: Top Ten French Attractions, Architecture, Top Ten Bridges,,
  15. Ithaa Restaurant at the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa (First All-Glass Undersea Restaurant)

    Ithaa, which means mother-of-pearl in Dhivehi, is the very first undersea restaurant in the world located 5 m (16 ft) below sea level at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in Alif Dhaal Atoll in the Republic of Maldives. The 5×9 m (16×30 ft) mostly acrylic structure has a capacity of 14 people and is encased in R-Cast acrylic with a transparent roof offering a 270° panoramic underwater view. The restaurant was designed and constructed by M.J. Murphy Ltd., a design consultancy based in New Zealand, and was opened on April 15, 2005. Food served in the restaurant has evolved over the years and is now best described as contemporary European with Asian influences. Ithaa’s entrance is a spiral staircase in a thatched pavilion at the end of a jetty. The tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake topped at 0.31 m (1 ft 0 in) below the staircase entrance, and caused no damage to the restaurant. In April 2010, to celebrate the restaurant’s 5th anniversary, it was made possible to sleep in Ithaa for the night if the restaurant is not booked for dinner. The restaurant is also used for private parties and weddings.
    Links: Hotels, Top 100 Hotels, Islands, Top Ten Islands, Restaurants, Top 100 Restaurants
  16. Links: Monuments and Wonders, Top 100 Monuments, Top Ten Wonders of Space, Top Ten Ancient Wonders, Top Ten Medieval Wonders, Top Ten Natural Wonders,