Global Vote Will Determine New 'Seven Wonders'

Bernard Weber is undertaking a campaign to designate the new "Seven Wonders of the World." He intends to do it by a global vote, taking advantage of the World Wide Web.

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LYNN NEARY, host:

A lot of people remember learning the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World in grade school: the great pyramids of Giza, the hanging gardens of Babylon. Well, that list hasn't been updated for about 2,000 years. The New Seven Wonders Foundation, a project founded six years ago by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, wants to update the history books with a list that takes into account such marvels as Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat, and even modern wonders like the Statue of Liberty.

Millions voted online to create a list of 77 candidates, and at the beginning of the year a panel of experts short-listed 21 candidates for the final vote. Bernard Weber is two months into a world tour of the 21 finalists, and he joins us now from Munich. So good to have you with us, Mr. Weber.

Mr. BERNARD WEBER (New Seven Wonders Foundation): Hello.

NEARY: I wonder if you could explain for us a little bit about the history of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, because since that time there have been lists of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Seven Greatest Engineering Feats of the World. What sets this particular list apart from those others?

Mr. WEBER: Two thousand years ago this list was made by one single man, by a Greek engineer, Philanoff Kizansium(ph), and now I thought with the modern technology, as Internet and telephony, it is the first time possible to call for a global vote and let the people decide.

NEARY: Now, since the nominees include candidates such as the Statue of Liberty, it obviously won't be a list of the ancient wonders anymore. So what criteria are you using?

Mr. WEBER: They should all be structures that have a special story to tell or inspire to many people different stories. So in other words, they are stimulators, they're symbols for something that generates fantasy, that generates admiration. Like, for instance, Stonehenge in England. When you think about the history, it was built 5,000 years ago, and these blocks of rocks had been transported for 30 kilometers. It is absolutely mind-blowing to stand there and touch those rocks.

NEARY: You know, here in this country, the newspaper USA Today and the television program Good Morning America, they have their own panel of experts who will unveil their Seven New Wonders of the World this month. Whose list do you think is going to make the history books finally?

Mr. WEBER: Well, listen. I mean there have been many seven wonders listed. Many people and many committees have been doing this before. So I thought with the global vote, everybody by actively voting for this will participate in actually the making of history. Rather than just be out there and declare something, we are making history. It's a process that is interesting and important. It's much less the results.

NEARY: Bernard Weber of the New Seven Wonders Foundation, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. WEBER: Well, thank you very much.

NEARY: And the winners of the vote will be announced at the official declaration ceremony in Lisbon on the 7th of July, 2007. You can visit www.newsevenwonders.com to cast your vote.

This is NPR News.

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