Contraterrene means just that—a type of matter exactly the opposite of ordinary or terrene matter. Instead of atoms composed of a positive nucleus surrounded by electrons, it consists of a negative nucleus surrounded by positrons.
But there are notable exceptions: e.g. stories prophesying a surprise attack on the United States by the yellow Aryans of Nippon, and J. D. Clark’s forecast of contraterrene matter in a short story called ‘Minus Planet’ published a few years ago.
One of the most common of the more spectacular things, of course—but not to be rated with a direct collision of stars—itself probably divided into two orders of spectacle; first order being a collision between a star made up of terrene matter and a contraterrene-matter star, and a second-order spectacle involving simply two stars of the same matter type.
The whole meteor belt was rich in contraterrene drift; matter inside out, with electrons and positrons in reverse positions.
The stripped seetee nuclei carried now terrific and unbalanced negative charges and repelled electrons, but tended to attract terrene atom nuclei. In their turn the stripped terrene nuclei attracted contraterrene.
We've known about atoms with protons and electrons for a long time; there have been suggestions of atoms with inverted structure—contraterrene atoms. But now it appears there are imitation atoms as well! But the phonies are soon unmasked—the masquerade lasts a few billionths of a second only!
This will be perfectly comprehensible to those who have read the C T—contraterrene matter—stories in Astounding.
It boils down to this; Argyle I is terrene matter and Argyle II is contraterrene, or negative matter.
In the July 1942 issue of Astounding SCIENCE FICTION Jack Williamson, using the pen name ‘Will Stewart’, introduced the concept of ‘seetee’—contraterrene matter—to science fiction in the novelette ‘Collision Orbit.’ Seetee, as is now pretty generally known, is matter electrically opposite to normal or terrene matter, with a nucleus of neutrons and negative protons surrounded by shells of positrons. In contact with normal matter, the opposites are attracted to each other, react, and neutralize each other with total conversion of their mass to energy.
As a result, about half of the lead fed into the chamber became contraterrene lead! The atoms just turned themselves inside out, so to speak, giving us an atom with positrons circling a negatively charged nucleus.
This is filled with both inert missiles and CTDs—contra-terrene devices—because nothing says ‘gigadeath’ quite so effectively as those flasks of anti-matter.
R. S. Richardson in 'Astounding'
Earliest cite in the OED: 1946.
Last modified 2021-04-14 20:33:03
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.