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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Punishment Sphere  
  Used to bring disruptive elements of society into line.  

The Sphere uses a technology called "Nerve Stapling", which is used to pacify rioters. No details are given, but to use this technology is considered an atrocity. The Sphere does this, but instead of applying every few hours, it does it every five minutes. In game, it reduces research, and subjugates not only the disruptive elements of society, but also the highly educated as well.

"It is not uncommon to see patients undergo permanent psychological trauma in the presence of the Sphere, before the nerve stapler has even been strapped into position. Its effect on the general consciousness of the culture is profound: husbands have seen wives go inside, and mothers their children. Dr. Xynan left the surface of the sphere semitranslucent for a reason. You can hear them in there; you can see them. It is a thing of terrible beauty."
Baron Klim, "The Music of the Spheres"
Technovelgy from Alpha Centauri, by Sid Meier.
Published by Fraxis Games in 1999
Additional resources -

Thanks to Gatomon41 for the reference.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Alpha Centauri
  More Ideas and Technology by Sid Meier
  Tech news articles related to Alpha Centauri
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