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"I can remember when the first pulsars were discovered. I was able to go and sit down and listen to graduate students talking about what their theories, to explain what pulsars really were."
- Vernor Vinge

Ringworld  
  A 50 foot thick ribbon of matter around a star, a million miles across and as long as Earth's orbital circumference.  

The central "character" of Ringworld is the world itself. An artifact that is a ribbon of matter with a star at it's center, it has over 3 million times as much surface area as the Earth. The ring rotates at 770 miles per second, providing centripetal force of roughly our gravity. What did it look like from the surface?

The Ringworld had no horizon. There was no line where the land curved away from the sky. Rather, earth and sky seemed to merge in a region where details the size of continents would have been mere points, where vanishing point held his eyes fixed.
From Ringworld, by Larry Niven.
Published by Ballantine in 1970
Additional resources -

For a very nice mathematical treatment of the Ringworld, see The Physics of the Ringworld by Alan Eisinger.

The ring is a compromise between a normal planet and a Dyson sphere. With the ring you only get a fraction of the available sunlight, but you can see the stars and you don't need gravity generators.

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

Ringworld-related news articles:
  - The Cygnus Bubble And Astroengineering
  - A Solar System Swept Clean - For A Dyson Swarm
  - Denmark Island Earth (Verdenskortet ala Ringworld)

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