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"The whole problem of energy sources is going to be solved by little solutions, not by some big new piece of technology that does everything. We got into this crisis by believing that we had one big piece of technology that would do everything (oil)."
- Gregory Benford

General Products Hull  
  Nearly indestructible outer skin for spaceships; pick your hull size and put what you want inside.  

The puppeteers of Ringworld are a remarkable race; their caution bordering on paranoia led them to develop some of the safest products for even the most hazardous pursuit - space travel.

"Nothing, but nothing, can get through a General Products hull. No kind of electromagnetic energy except visible light. No kind of matter, from the smallest subatomic particle to the fastest meteor. That's what the company's advertisements claim, and the guarantee backs them up. I've never doubted it, and I've never heard of a General Products hull being damaged by a weapon or by anything else."
From Neutron Star, by Larry Niven.
Published by Worls of If in 1966
Additional resources -

There are four hull types:

  • No. 1: Sphere about the size of a basketball.
  • No. 2: Long, tapered cylinder 100 feet long and 20-25 feet wide, with a wasp-like constriction towards the tail.
  • No. 3: Cylinder with rounded ends and a flat belly.
  • No. 4: Sphere with approximately 1000 foot diameter.
More information is provided in Ringworld (1970):

General Products, the puppeteer-owned trading company, had sold many diversified wares in known space; but its fortunes had been founded on the General Products hull...

SF fans have read this idea before; see the crystal sphere from the 1931 story Emperor of the Stars.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Neutron Star
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
  Tech news articles related to Neutron Star
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

General Products Hull-related news articles:
  - Fishbowl Spaceship From Armadillo Aerospace

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