Friday, August 25, 2006

The eighth wonder of the world

No, I don’t mean King Kong.

For reasons that shall become clear another time, I asked a couple of learned fellows about the seven wonders of the world (according to Phil from Istanbul: two blokes, two tombs, a church, a garden and a lighthouse).

If, I wanted to know, you were to list seven modern wonders of engineering and human cleverness, what would they be? The catch being that you can only include things made before 1853, so I might rip off the answers for a story.

So no, you can’t have the Brooklyn Bridge (which was started in 1870), and neither the new Palace of Westminster nor the Clifton Suspension Bridge were completed.

We came up with a bridge, a boat, a greenhouse, some tracks, a lighthouse and two connected houses. You can have a guess if you like, but the answers aren’t due until Christmas.

There’s yet another shortlist for “unsung landmarks” on the BBC News site. I find myself torn between two:

Nimbos beaming his signalsTelly transmitters at Crystal Palace
Which I live sort of under, and what gave Nimbos his logo. It's on the site of one end of the Crystal Palace, and can be seen from all across London. Which makes me wonder whether the palace was, too.

Collinwood kills TomRadio telescope at Jodrell Bank
Which was the formative death of Dr Who, and also had sunflowers growing next door when I visited many years ago.

Still, it loses points for the paltry exhibition, which explained little more than what the nine planets are called. The exhibits were mostly about what we can see of the cosmos, when Jodrell Bank really just listens.

Returned home to my then physicist housemate who explained that the little and newer telescope next to the big one is by far the more powerful and groovy. Technology has meant that size doesn’t matter.

And yet, they can still make use of the big one. They team up with two other big telescopes evenly spaced around the Earth, and then go listen to the same bit of space. By comparing the slightly different hearings, they gain results as if they had a telescope bigger than the whole of the planet.

Which is a bit damn cool. So I’m voting for Jodrell.

(Note to self: 4,073 words and still lots to be done with the other one.)


Alex Wilcock said...

It's a tough call, but I'd go for Jodrell too. In part because my Dad does what used to be the Planetarium talks there (they closed the Planetarium and now just do them in a theatre. Cutbacks. Grr). And it is very cool.

If the 'upwards' cut-off point for your definition of 'modern' is 1853, by the way, what is your 'downwards' point?

Rob Stradling said...

Your wonders are:

* Bridge - hmmm, either the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, or Karluv Most in Prague.

* Boat - Gotta be SS Great Britain, unless it's the Great Western!

* Greenhouse - The Crystal Palace

* Tracks - The Stockton & Darlington Railroad, or the Baltimore-Ohio...?

* Lighthouse - Bell Rock, or Eddystone if Brunel isn't allowed two.

* Houses - The White House and Versaille Palace.

I'll take my prize in Cadury's Fingers of Fudge, plesase.