The Science behind it
It has now become possible to interchange light and matter in Supercooled clouds. This brings us back again to Doctor Lene Hau, and her co-authors Naomi S. Ginsberg and Sean R Garners, who found that they could convert an original optical pulse into a traveling matter wave which is an exact matter copy of the original puse, moving at only 200 meters per hour. This matter pulse could then be converted back into light when it enters the second of the supercooled clouds and is illuminated with a control laser.
Which means that the basic premise of part of the story has a very definite background in fact.
You can read up more about this in Nature .. Vol 445|8 February 2007| doi:10.1038/nature05493
or in this Harvard press release:
The idea of stopped light, which is key to part of the Ammonite Galaxy series, has fascinated me since I first saw these results. It seems to hold so many possiblities. I had to bring it into the series ... and I am very glad I did!
There is some interesting research on annihilation lasers, and gamma ray plasmas in the following articles:
And the very interesting "Prospects for making a Bose-Einstein-condensed Positronium
Annihilation Gamma Ray Laser" by A. P. Mills, Jr., D. B. Cassidy and R. G. Greaves, which you can find as a pdf download by searching for it.
There is a nice article in the Guardian about the methane bubbles in Abraham Lake:
which gave me the idea for Alakisa, where deposits have built up on the 'bubbles' and then the water has evaporated, leaving only columns of lozenge-shaped stones.
Positronium physics is pretty interesting, and there are also some articles about quantum turbulence by vortex stirring, such as:
Well, enough at the moment to whet your appetite! I will add more when I have time.