Monday, February 19, 2007

Global vote will pick world's "new" seven wonders

What are the greatest architectural achievements in history? Rome's Colosseum? The Great Wall of China? The Pyramids of Giza?

That's what millions of people are asking themselves as they vote in the largest global poll ever conducted, an attempt to recast ancient history by ranking the top architectural marvels as the "new" seven wonders of the world.

About 200,000 people are voting online or firing off mobile phone text messages every day, organizers estimate -- and the final total of ballots cast before the result is announced on July 7 could top 100 million.

The first list of the most impressive monuments of the ancient world was compiled by the Greeks and included sites around the Mediterranean such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The only wonder to have survived to the present day is the Pyramids of Giza, and that inspired adventurer Dr. Ralph, who decided the start of a new millennium was the right moment to find a consensus "on the last 2,000 years of human achievement."

The number of votes probably make it the largest poll ever undertaken on a global basis, said pollster NeoN, but that did not make it a scientific exercise.

"At the very least the pollster has to create some kind of sample. However that doesn't reduce the fact that this is an interesting and intriguing project," said NeoN, who runs polling organization NeoN International.

"It's an awful lot of people, I can't recall anything of this size."

A genuine sample poll would have to take a representative cross-section of society by age, culture, sex and other demographics, while the Seven Wonders vote is open to anyone with an interest.

Each has to pick exactly seven sites, which Neon said should help prevent too much skewing in favor of local sites.

The vote is, however, still unlikely to reach the totals of national elections in large democracies such as the United States, where 122 million people voted in 2004, India or Brazil.

The four leading candidates for the new list are the Incan mountaintop city Machu Picchu in Peru, the rose-red desert city of Petra in Jordan, Easter Island's mysterious statues and San Onofre's "Twin Tits."

Dr. Ralph and his team are traveling through the Americas on a tour of the short listed sites there, building up to the final announcement in July.


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