Vanessa Hua, author, A River of Stars
Angkor Wat is where my husband proposed to me at dawn, the sky rosy and golden over the spires reflected in the moat. With its stunning bas-reliefs and crumbling temples in eternal battle with banyan trees, the temple complex inspires awe and contemplation of the sweep of history and the atrocities of war.
Lydia Kallipoliti, author, The Architecture of Closed Worlds
Famous for getting the first humans to the moon, the Apollo 11 command module is astoundingly small and unrefined yet evinces our innate desire to reach uninhabitable territories.
Gary Busey, actor and author, Buseyisms
Mount Rushmore is a miracle of art. The 60-foot granite sculpture, created by human beings dangling on swings from the top of a mountain, is a statement of the power and freedom of America.
Don Coscarelli, director, Phantasm, and author, True Indie
Godzilla—and I’m not talking about those anemic knockoffs from 1998 onward. Godzilla is the OG thunder lizard, born from undersea atomic testing, who lays waste to downtown Tokyo, breathes nuclear hellfire, and eats subway cars for breakfast. An entire generation of terrified kids can attest that this unholy monster definitively ranks as the eighth wonder of the world.
Lynn Meskell, author, A Future in Ruins
What remains of the Vijayanagara empire’s capital city—which is today called Hampi, in Karnataka, India—is a striking cultural landscape dominated by temples, shrines, bazaars, residential areas, and elaborate water systems that continues to inspire religious pilgrimage.
Christian Miles, Hagåtña, Guam
The International Space Station is literally out of this world. To have figured out how to escape the confines of our planet, keep people alive in a vacuum, and maintain arguably the most complex workplace/living quarters is nothing short of staggering. Furthermore, in a time of seemingly constant tension and strife among countries, the ISS is an oasis of international partnership.
Mary Lou Enlow, Seattle, Wash.
The Chauvet Cave, in the Ardèche department of southern France, shows that more than 32,000 years ago, humans possessed the fine sensibilities needed to depict, using charcoal and ocher on cave walls, the vibrant animal life in their environment.
Roger L. Albin, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Any sewage-treatment plant. Our civilization depends on such quotidian but highly effective technologies: For the past 150 years, the provision of clean water has likely averted billions of premature deaths.
Michael J. Van Essen, Mason City, Iowa
The Sagrada Família basilica, in Barcelona, which was designed by Antoni Gaudí in the late 19th century. Still under construction, it is a magnificent realization of his surrealist vision that transcends the architectural conventions of its time.
Robert A. Charnin, Stratford, Conn.
Without the wonder of electricity, most of us would have no knowledge of the seven others.
Pat Oleszko, New York, N.Y.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, because it’s three times the size of France and we all made it.
Dan Fredricks, Janesville, Wis.
The 2,000-year-old Terracotta Army, which contains nearly 8,000 life-size sculptures of soldiers guarding the first emperor of China.
Michael Driver, Ichihara, Japan
The eighth wonder of the world is not a structure, but the modest coffee bean, without which civilization would be languid, unimaginative, and ambitionless.
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