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There is much talking in recent days about solid metallic hydrogen and its possible uses. When was it referenced in a science fiction story for the first time? Please note that I am asking about its use as a tool.

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    Some say there was an article about the fictional discovery of metallic hydrogen recently in Science. ;)
    – Adamant
    Jan 30, 2017 at 10:30
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    I seem to recall that the Moties in The Mote in Gods Eye were apparently refueling a ship with metallic hydrogen shipped by a linear accelerator. Can't make it an answer, because I no longer have the book to check
    – infixed
    Jan 30, 2017 at 15:43
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    @infixed: The Mote In God's Eye, Ch. 19: Renner was new to the Navy, but he was learning to recognize that tone. “Yessir. It occurred to me that hydrogen is metallic at the right temperature and pressure. If those tanks were really pressurized, the hydrogen would carry a current—but it would take the kind of pressures you find at the core of a gas giant planet.”
    – Joe L.
    Jan 30, 2017 at 16:34
  • @JoeL You did the leg work, you can take the answer if you want. I don't even remember the year that came out
    – infixed
    Jan 30, 2017 at 16:43
  • @infixed: It may not count since it was only a speculation that is never "proven" in the book.
    – Joe L.
    Jan 30, 2017 at 16:57

2 Answers 2

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Poul Anderson's Call Me Joe (1957) includes a reference to a level on Jupiter "where water is a heavy mineral and Hydrogen is a metal". The speaker is told that Hydrogen is still a gas where Joe lives, and that the metallic phase is lower down.

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Also from 1957 Science Fiction Theater Episode 76 "The Magic Suitcase" - specifically refer to the 22 minute mark for the scientific exposition.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x25362c

While is doesn't get into the fantastic effort it would take to make hydrogen solid and act like a metal - I suppose it is implied by the equally fantastic results it generates and alien origin. The power cell's shell is nearly indestructible metallic hydrogen surrounding a quantity of helium under so much pressure it too is forced to be solid and is superconducting. (Actually in real world science the metallic hydrogen would be more electrically interesting - solid helium is a good fusion power source I'd speculate.)

Yes dear readers - George McFly's favorite television program was a real tv show.

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Fiction_Theatre

Science Fiction Theater Episode 76 "The Magic Suitcase"

  • Directed by Paul Guilfoyle
  • Story by William R. Epperson
  • Teleplay by : Lou Huston January 26, 1957

A stranger arrives in a remote dwelling with a small suitcase. It has an electrical outlet on the outside and, in the stranger's absence, the homeowner's son plugs his electric train into it. He is scolded by his father but, after the stranger disappears without the suitcase, the man refers it to scientists because the energy the suitcase emits seems unlimited. Unable to pierce the material of the suitcase, the scientists use the suitcase's own energy to break it open. They do not fully understand what they find inside (a block of solidified hydrogen) and the suitcase no longer produces energy. A "killing the goose that laid the golden egg" tale.

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  • FWIW, regular helium requires a huge temperature to undergo fusion. You need the rare helium-3 isotope for practical fusion (but it still requires higher temps than our current experimental fusion reactors).
    – PM 2Ring
    Mar 17, 2023 at 11:27

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