Seven Wonders of the IT World

The fastest supercomputer. The most intriguing data center. The constantly changing core at the heart of Linux. Take a tour of the most impressive and most unusual marvels of the IT world.

First, there were the Seven Wonders of the World. Then there was a New Seven Wonders list, voted on Internet-style. That got us thinking: What are the seven wonders of the IT world? Here's a look at seven of the biggest, most extreme and most unusual computers and projects. By the way, do you have a vote for an eighth wonder? Tell us about it by commenting at the end of this story.

Computer Closest to the North Pole:

Webcam #1

Who's in charge: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory takes care of this floating eye at the top of the world.

northpole_edit.jpg
A view close to the North Pole from Webcam #1

Make and model: NetCam XL, made by StarDot Technologies.

Proximity to the pole: Varies. "Since the North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, we deploy our instrumentation on an ice floe as close to the pole as we can," says Nancy Soreide, associate director for IT at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. "However, the ice floe does not stay at or near the pole. It drifts."

How it works: The webcam's container stands on a metal apparatus, on top of a piece of plywood and the ice. A battery floats beneath the ice surface, powering the webcam, which sends back pictures via satellite.

Prime time: Runs only during the balmier months, between April and October.

Life span: Think Titanic—at the end of each year's season, the webcam sinks, and is replaced by a newer model.

Operating temperature: From a chilly minus 40 degrees F to a balmy 120 degrees F.

Resolution: 2048 by 1536 (3.1 megapixels).

Weight: 19.5 ounces.

Dimensions: 3.25 inches wide (82.5 millimeters) by 2.20 inches high (56 millimeters) by 6.6 inches deep (167 millimeters).

On the scene: Lots of ice but no Santa sightings or flying reindeer, to date.

Next: The Computer Farthest from Earth

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