I was reading Lary Niven's "The Ringworld Engineers" last night. In the last chapter I read, they were flying the Needle underneath the Ringworld, passing under The Great Ocean, looking at the indentations of the planet maps in the Ringworld's outside surface. When they get to where Mars should be they see no indentation. The characters mention that it must have something to do with the superconductor grid embedded in the Ringworld. I'm totally confused by this. Will this be explained in later chapters? It feels like I've missed an important plot point.

If your answer will contain spoilers for the rest of the book please warn me first.


1 Answer 1


The answer is a major spoiler in and of itself

The whole volume under the map of Mars is the Construction Shack/Repair Center from which the Engineers oversaw the well-being of the ring.

and who the Engineers are/were is another spoiler


  • 3
    1 non-spoiler; Mars has a thin atmosphere - to mimic it, the whole area is 20 miles up, resulting in a thinner atmosphere.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 17:32
  • @dmckee Thanks for the answer and spoiler warning. I'll finish the book before reading your answer and marking it as accepted.
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 17:39
  • @KeithHWeston I remember them talking about that. Which just further confused me. You would expect the indentation to be much deeper because of it.
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 17:42
  • @dmckee Ok I finished the book. What a great read! The last part really flies by! After finishing it I went back and re-read the part about the missing indentation. Now I understand why it was so confusing. The characters were trying to figure out why the indentation was missing but, also why the surrounding water was not warmer from cooling Mars. That was why they mentioned the grid. The extra heat was being transferred into the superconductor grid. I mistakenly thought the grid was suppose to explain the missing indentation somehow. That was why I was confused. The rest is explained later.
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 1:17

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