Technology is taking such rapid strides forward at such a blurring pace that what is considered a marvelous novelty turns into a mundane common object within no time. To classify and bunch a set of man-made marvels from a world that is being constantly altered is a pretty tough job. Finding them is easy enough in a world filled with man-made wonders but the relevance of such a compilation will be short-lived compared with a list from the ancient world. Yet we embark on a journey across the planet and beyond to try and find out the best the world has to offer—our own creations that leave us in awe. We limit ourselves to finding the biggest, tallest or the highest as otherwise we would probably never end the journey we began. It is a journey filled with variations and grand delights in a spectacular way. So, have a fun ride...
1. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider
With an ability to change our understanding of the world around us and give us the reasons of our own existence, CERN’s LHC is for now the most spectacular and important technological marvel modern science has created. The particle accelerator is just a couple of days away from action, and the large construction 17 miles in circumference will surely make the coming two decades the most exciting for modern physicists. It's truly amazing creation that could answer the questions about the creation and existence of this universe itself!
2. International Space Station (ISS)
It is one thing making wonders of engineering on earth and a whole different ballgame when you need to do it outside the planet in outer space. The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility that is a joint project among the space agencies of the United States (NASA), Russia (RKA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and eleven European countries. When completed in 2010, it will be the largest and grandest human endeavor away from home, and to build such a massive structure in such dangerous conditions is one magnificent tribute to both human will and skill.
3. Three Gorges Dam
Taking shape of the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world and that too by a long shot, the Three Gorges Dam in China is not just spectacular to watch but enormous in magnitude. Generating 22.5 GW of power it will supply energy amounting to 4% of China’s national needs. Creating a reservoir as large as Lake Superior, this dam will be good as a grand marvel of modern engineering by becoming the world’s largest concrete structure!
4. Petronas Twin Towers
At 452 meters tall, the Petronas Twin Towers are magnificent and unique. While their familiarity seems at times to diminish their true aura, you only need to stand in front of the towers for one moment to realize the magnitude of the construction. For sheer intimidating height and the sophisticated look, they are a marvel of modern times.
5. Space Telescope Chandra
Also known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility, Chandra is an X-ray telescope orbiting the earth and sending back the most spectacular images of the cosmos that man has ever captured. The telescope moves in an orbit which makes it the furthest traveling earth-orbiting man-made object. The X-ray images offered by Chandra since its launch have redefined our notions of the cosmos and have given astronomy a whole new direction.
6. Palm Deira of Dubai
Palm Deira is the latest of Dubai’s trilogy of man-made islands. This island will occupy all of 46.35 million square meters of land reclaimed from the Persian Gulf to make the Palm Deira the largest man-made island in the entire world. All set to be finished by the year 2013, the island will further alter the landscape of effervescent Dubai!
7. Viaduc de Millau Bridge
Stretching higher than the Eiffel Tower, the Viaduc de Millau Bridge is a marvel of art and architecture that caught the eye of even flamboyant French President Jacques Chirac. Stretching across southern France's Tarn River Gorge, it is 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) long and soaring to 1,132 feet (343 meters) at its highest point, it is the tallest bridge in the world. Built by the firm that also built the Eiffel Tower, its spectacular presence bowls over one and all!
8. Bird’s Nest
The Bird’s Nest in the heart of Beijing needs little introduction to anyone, and it is one structure that has now become synonymous with the Olympic Games. Apart from its grand, yet unique design, the stadium is the world’s largest steel structure. No other man-made structure used up as much steel as the Olympic Stadium, with its intricate yet hypnotic design. That surely sets it apart in terms of being a one of a kind venue in the sporting world.
9. Burj-Al-Arab Hotel
By now almost everyone knows about the Burj-Al-Arab, and if you have not heard of it or seen its picture till now, then welcome back to earth. The hotel stands at a height of 321 meters and is the tallest operational hotel in the world. While the Rosa Tower is set to soon take away that crown, it still will not diminish the unique aura of the Burj, with its unique shape and its own artificial island. This is one hotel where you can live it up in a grand style!
10. Kingda Ka Roller Coaster
At a height of 456 feet, the Kingda Ka Roller Coaster is the tallest fun ride in the world. Located in the Six Flags Theme Park in New Jersey, the ride will take you into a different world and even before you know it, you will be plunging back towards earth at a speed of 128 mph. This heart-stopping and mind-numbing ride is not just the tallest in the world but also the most exhilarating. This is a modern marvel that is just for fun and adrenaline, and that makes it our personal favorite!
11. Rungnado May Day Stadium
Located in Pyongyang, North Korea, the May Day stadium is the largest in the world and has seen some pretty big crowds. The May Day stadium has 150,000 seats and a total floor space of more than 207,000 square meters. The inner stadium floor area covers 25,000 square meters, including 14,000 square meters of which its athletic field is artificially made and 8,300 square meters of lawn. Vertical axis of stadium is 450 meters and horizontal axis 350 meters. Those are just a few numbers from this humongous stage for sporting extravaganza!
12. Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge
The Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world and is a spectacular visual delight. It apparently took 2 million workers 10 years to construct the bridge, 181,000 tons of steel and 1.4 million cubic meters of concrete. The four-mile bridge links the island of Awaji and the mainland city of Kobe. This is probably one man-made marvel that even the Japanese are proud about and look at in awe!
13. Lake Mead
Lake Mead is one of my own personal favorites not just because it is such a spectacular human creation among nature’s brilliant creations, but it also brings in the aura of the Hoover Dam into the list. When it was completed, the Hoover Dam was the largest concrete structure in the world, and also the largest power-producing entity. With time all that might have gone, but the artificial lake it creates among the gorgeous Grand Canyons—Lake Mead—is still the world’s largest man-made reservoir. Simply spectacular!
14. Project Genesis
When finished in 2009, Royal Caribbean's Project Genesis luxury cruise ship will be the largest cruise ship the world has ever known. This modern-day luxury-on-ocean will end up costing a cool $1.24 billion to make. It will measure 1,180 feet long and carry 5,400 passengers. When ready, the ship would have a central park, luxury hotels, restaurants, public spaces, picnic spots and bars. Yes, it is like a little city of its own!
15. Hangzhou Bay Bridge
There is something about bridges that we just cannot get enough of. It is just the scientific knowledge and the engineering skill involved in building them that makes them stand out as technical pieces of art. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge is the longest road bridge in the world and another Chinese marvel that made it to our list. The £840 million Bridge, measuring 36km, spans Hangzhou Bay to link China’s financial hub and the port city of Ningbo to the south. The fact that it is anchored in waters that are 60 meters deep in places and yet is so solid and spectacular makes it a feat of accomplishment indeed!
16. Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel, more popularly known as the Eurotunnel, is the longest under-sea rail tunnel in the world in terms of length of the tunnel under the sea. Connecting England and France, it starts out at Kent in England and finishes at Coquelles near Calais in northern France. Creating a bridge over water is hard enough but to plow under the sea to create a rail tunnel! This is one ride that you will never forget.
17. Singapore Flyer
These big giant wheels that go round and round giving you a spectacular view of the city are so cool, and the one in London is obviously pretty famous. But there is plenty of hard work and engineering skill behind the apparent simplicity. The Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest Ferris wheel and reaches 42 stories high, it comprises of a 150-metre high wheel built over a three-story terminal building, thus giving it a total height of 165 meters. It not only gives you a view of Singapore in totality but parts of Malaysia and Indonesia as well... Awesome!
18. Pan STARRS-1
Built at Manoa’s Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu at the University of Hawaii, the largest digital camera has been installed on the Pan STARRS-1 telescope on Haleskala, Maui. This digital wonder along with the telescope will form one of the most powerful observatories on the planet and will monitor the cosmos constantly.
It is not often that science and religion get along well, and that makes the MareNostrum all the more special. MareNostrum is the most powerful supercomputer in Europe and while Europe does not cover the world, it is the only one where you will find a church. The supercomputer consists of 2560 JS21 blade computing nodes, each with 2 dual-core IBM 64-bit PowerPC 970MP processors running at 2.3 GHz for 10240 CPUs. All this in a chapel, and the ironic part: it is used for human genome research!
20. San Alfonso Del Mar
After taking a trip across the planet in search of the mind-boggling modern technological wonders, it is better everyone takes a cool dip on our final spot, and that is exactly why we reserved this one final spot for San Alfonso Del Mar in Chile. This amazing resort in the beautiful South American country sports the world’s largest swimming pool, and when I say large, I mean it. The San Alfonso pool is 1km in length and contains an incredible 250,000 cubic meters of water. The technology used to create the crystal clear water that is transparent to a depth of 35 meters is the real technological aspect of this pool, and an exclusive secret for now. The pool, spread over 8 hectares, is surely good enough for all those who came along on this fabulous journey!
That is the end of the journey, I’m afraid. Hope you all had as much fun and clicked on as many amazing images of these breathtaking human creations as I did. Now that you all cooled off at the San Alfonso Del Mar, just wipe yourself dry and head back home with the memories... Or you can enjoy the pool a bit longer. Adios!