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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Vitalium  
  A rare radioactive metal which enables solar power cells.  

It utilizes the remarkable properties of the rare radioactive metal, vitalium, which is believed to be the very basis of life, since it was first discovered to exist in minute traces in those complex substances so necessary to all life, the vitamins. Large deposits were discovered at Kepler and elsewhere on the moon during the twenty-first century. Under the sun's rays vitalium undergoes a change to triatomic form, storing up the vast energy of sunlight. The vitalium plates from the sunshine are built into batteries with alternate sheets of copper, from which the solar energy may be drawn in the form of electric current. As the battery discharges, the vitalium reverts to its stabler allotropic form, and may be used again and again. The Vitalium Power Company's plants in Arizona, Chili, Australia, the Sahara, and the Gobi now furnish most of the earth's power.
From The Prince of Space, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1931
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