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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Tetrahedron Interference Projector  
  Projects a field of force around the Solar System, bending the light of stars to make them seem more distant.  

Far ahead, a brilliant splash of dazzling white light lay across the corridor. Dain and Ormond paused in stupefaction as they reached it. One side of the corridor was open, without wall or rail, and they looked down as from a giddy catwalk into an immense space that was a colossal room occupying a great part of the giant cylinder. They could not tell how distant were the wglls of the vast chamber, their eyes were so blinded by the thing blazing at its center.

It was a stupendous tetrahedron of pure white light, poised with apex uppermost, hanging weightlessly down above the floor of the vast chamber. All around it, in a circle of which the dazzling tetrahedron was the center, stood a ring of huge glass spheres. Each sphere was filled with curdled white light or force, and from each a thin stream of light jetted inward to feed the central tetrahedron...

“Ross, these spheres are reservoirs of force !” he cried. “They collect force from the sun and store it somehow in the spheres to keep the tetrahedron going. But what’s it all for?”

From The Great Illusion, by Will Garth.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

The aliens in the ship bring grim news - humanity has been fooled for countless millennia!

“You think that the other stars are unthinkably far from your own Solar System, so distant that they can never be reached. That is the great illusion! For the truth is that the stars are hundreds of times nearer your System than you and your scientists believe. So near are they, indeed, that it would not be hard for you to reach them in craft similar to the one that brought you here.”

“That can’t be!” exclaimed Kenneth Dain incredulously. “Why, our astronomers have for years measured the stars’ distances, by every delicate method. We know that even the nearest star is countless billions of miles away.”

“We built this great ship, and all it contains, and towed it here into an orbit about your sun. It draws power from your sun, power which is stored in spherical condensers and fed ceaselessly into the shining tetrahedron. That tetrahedron emits a force that maintains a constant sphere of interference around your Solar System, a shell of energy that refracts and bends all light entering this System from the outer Universe. It so distorts and diminishes the lightbeams from the outer stars that from inside the System those stars appear fearfully remote. Aye, and so cunningly that even to the most delicate instruments of your world the stars still appear remote...

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Great Illusion
  More Ideas and Technology by Will Garth
  Tech news articles related to The Great Illusion
  Tech news articles related to works by Will Garth

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