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"IMHO, having students do computer games projects is absolutely the best possible way to teach programming, graphics, software engineering, object oriented programming, etc."
- Rudy Rucker

Planetary Globe  
  A craftsman's model of a planet.  

He took the globe down and set it on the table before him. It had been begun in the early days of the voyage, seven subjective years past in time and one hundred and ninety light years back in space, to compensate the first bitter pain of loss. It was made of green chromastite, with the refraction planes of the mineral subtly altered to simulate the varying depths of the sea. An overlay of rich, brown jade had been partially carved into a relief of continents and islands. It was to have been his masterpiece - a tiny model of Eiollyra.

He turned the globe slowly in his hands. The north continent was still blank and the poles wanted frosting. There was a lot of work to be done - delicate, painstaking carving with an energy needle - before it would be a perfect replica of the real world, the first world, the world whose warming sun, the astrophysicists said, would explode into a nova..

The First Commander slowly set up the magnifier and arranged the three-dimensional patterns. He pulled a transparent shield over his eyes and began to carve a tiny mountain chain...

From Star of Wonder, by Julian May.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1953
Additional resources -

Most science fiction fans recall the imperial handicraft globe of Arrakis from Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Star of Wonder
  More Ideas and Technology by Julian May
  Tech news articles related to Star of Wonder
  Tech news articles related to works by Julian May

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