When Philon of Byzantium declared the Ancient 7 Wonders, the then-known world was very small, spanning around the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, of course, we are aware of the 7 continents that make up the globe—our world is much larger than that of 2,000 years ago. Should this mean that there should be, instead of only 7, maybe 21, 100, or why not even 1,000 New Wonders of the World? This logical question has been asked often over the past years. However, it is not only in tribute to the original Greek concept that New7Wonders has stuck with the number 7 in the first campaign and now in the current campaign … there is another very interesting and important reason for this. It is a fact that 7 is not only a magical number, but also a very practical one: 7 things is exactly the number of things that the average person can remember.
Religion and culture assign a special place to the number 7
When people are asked to choose a number between one and 10, the most popular choice is 7, all over the world. 7 is a number that appears in nearly every facet of human life. Here are just a few examples: 7 is the number of periods (or rows) of elements on the periodic table in chemistry. On a more aesthetic level of science, ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) are the 7 colors that make up white light—these are also what we marvel at in each rainbow. With very few exceptions, all mammals’ necks have 7 bones. In addition to the traditional 7 seas in many cultures, 7 is also the number of stellar objects in the solar system visible to the naked eye: the sun, the moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. There are also 7 external holes in the human head: two eyes, two nostrils, two ears and one mouth.
Every religion and culture assigns a special place to the number 7. The Jewish Torah and the Christian Old Testament recount that God rested on and sanctified the 7th day, and in the Roman Catholic belief, there are 7 sacraments. Of course, the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Virtues that are well known in Western culture may also come to mind. Further East, Buddha walked 7 steps at his birth. And in the North American heritage, 7 is the definitive number in Cherokee cosmology. In Islamic tradition, 7 is used to symbolize infinity and is also the number of heavens and earths. Ancient Egyptians saw the number 7 as a symbol of eternal life. In Japanese mythology, you will find 7 Lucky Gods. In Hinduism, the cycle of rebirths goes through 7 stages before the soul attains moksha, or salvation, and in everyday Indian life, the 7 levels of consciousness play an important role, connected to the 7 main chakras of the body.
Musically, 7 is the number of notes in the traditional Western major scale. Throughout world music, literature, film and television, as well as in the sports world in many cultures, the number 7 has featured frequently—a sign of how powerfully it appeals to people everywhere and during different eras. Looking at modern communications, 7 is also the number of digits in an American or Canadian telephone number, excluding the area code. We use a 7-day week in the vast majority of today’s world. And many people say they are “in 7th heaven” when they are really happy.
7 = memory + challenge
But beside these manifestations that are part of and deeply rooted in the cultures around the world, 7 is simply a practical number that makes life easier for all of us. Since George A. Miller, a respected professor of psychology at Princeton University, introduced his theory of “The Magical Number 7” in 1956, our short-term memory is generally considered to have the capacity for around 7 elements. While some scientists may speak of even less than 7, what this really means is that the average human (children included) can remember 7 digits, letters, words, or other units with just a little brainwork. This small effort is what solidifies it in our memory. So a system of 7 elements, such as The Official New 7 Wonders of the World, is something that every human can follow and remember by challenging his or her brain a little bit.
With The Official New 7 Wonders of the World, humanity has, for the first time, created what we are calling Global Memory, 7 things that everyone can remember and in which they can participate.