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How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction 
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Post How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction
I have an article in Symmetry magazine about the path by which antimatter, a curiosity to physicists in the 1930s, .

I came across an exchange in the Heinlein Archives where John W. Campbell Jr. was persuading Heinlein to write a story about miners harvesting deadly "contraterrene" (what we would today call antimatter) asteroids for energy. Heinlein considered this and researched it for a while, then dropped the idea, so Campbell offered it to Jack Williamson. Williamson developed it into the "Seetee" series, adding his own ideas and a new word, "terraforming."

I unraveled the trail of scientific developments that preceded Campbell's inspiration. Heinlein looked like the perfect author to write this, since he had already done two nuclear physics stories, "Blowups Happen" and "Solution Unsatisfactory," for Campbell.

I also tracked down Williamson's for "Collision Orbit," which the editors of Symmetry treated with the respect due a historic laboratory notebook or scientific communication.

And I turned the whole tale into a lecture, which I have presented at a couple of conventions.

Fun fact: Williamson wrote the first story in a shack he built himself, .

So the Archives have provided the seed for one magazine article so far. I hope there are more.

My only disappointment is that they cropped the "about the author" , which Reidar Hahn went to considerable trouble to shoot.

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Bill Higgins
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Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:07 am
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Post Re: How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction
Beyond cool. Do you have a higher res version of the picture?


Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:33 pm
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Post Re: How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction


Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:56 am
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Post Re: How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction
Good work.

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Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:02 am
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Bill Higgins
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Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:32 am
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Post Re: How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction
Fine article, and neat photo!

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Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:46 pm
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Post Re: How Antimatter Became a Plaything of Science Fiction
That's a nice piece of work! I'm probably not the only physics geek around here, but I had no idea that Heinlein had been offered the chance to do the first "antimatter" stories in SF before Jack Williamson did it. (I *miss* Williamson, BTW; his books are cool and when met him at a con many years ago, he was a joy to have there.)

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Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:26 pm
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Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:41 pm
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Bill Higgins
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Sun Jan 04, 2009 6:10 pm
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