According to authoritative sources like Solo Traveler and HuffPost, more people are choosing to travel solo these days. Common reasons cited for choosing this vacation option include: a need for breathing room, an urge to: “do what I want to do when I want to do it” , a need to seek challenges/gain confidence, to recharge, to avoid having to wait for anyone, to “get the hell away from my spouse before I wring their ever-loving neck”, and last but not least, as a retaliatory spending strategy.
Say you come home and your spouse says, “Honey, you’ll never guess what I bought today! Cover your eyes.” You dutifully cover your eyes and are led out to the driveway where you behold the following:
Yes! You guessed it! A new car! But not just any car. This is a 1964 Chrysler turbine car! Those things that look like laser cannons poking out of the business end are actually the turbine exhaust ports. Neat huh? This car has a lot going for it.
- It sounds sort of like a jet engine revving up.
- Although it was designed to burn diesel fuel, it can burn pretty much any flammable liquid including kerosene, jet fuel, peanut oil, tequila and Chanel No. 5. (I swear on the proboscis of an elephant seal that I am not making up the bit about Chanel No. 5.)
3. Jay Leno owns one. (A Chrysler turbine car, not an elephant seal.) In addition to his massive lower jaw, Jay has an equally massive collection of expensive vehicles. He bought his turbine car directly from Chrysler and paid $415,000 for it.
These cars never really took off (!) as a mainstream product because other drivers kept gawking at them, saying to themselves “What in tarnation is that?” and then plowing into things like other cars and trees. Turbine cars would have wound up costing about four times more than a regular car, and you could never get the Chanel No. 5/peanut oil smell out of the upholstery. Long story short, Chrysler only made 55 of these cars, and destroyed most of them.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so in retaliation for your spouse’s financial indiscretion, you think to yourself: “Heck, if he just spent all that money on that stupid turbine car, I’m going to retaliate by taking a solo trip to check out some of those Lost City alkaline hydrothermal vents that lots of people are talking about these days.”
These plumes of hot, alkaline, mineral-rich water which can generate and concentrate a wide variety of small organic molecules, may just happen to be the places where life originated, according to a book by Nick Lane:
If you happen to like geology, electrochemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, genetics physics and saw-whet owls, this is the book for you. (Actually I threw in the saw-whet owls just to see if you were paying attention. As far as I know, saw-whet owls do not get any airtime in Mr. Lane’s book.) Seriously though, this is an amazing book. I’m not kidding. Really. I’m not.
But a trip to check out the vents is definitely an excellent retaliatory spending choice since you will need something like the Ocean Pearl, a nifty little $2.5 million-dollar two-person submersible for the trip. (The vents in question are typically located on the seafloor in about 2500 to 3000 feet of water.)
Another great retaliatory spending idea is a trip to that Island of Stability that lots of other people are talking about. (I mean the people other than the people who are fixated on the alkaline hydrothermal vents. In case you were wondering.)
There’s one hitch: The Island of Stability is not a real island. It’s a theoretical region of the Periodic Table. As you recall from Grade 9 Science, the Periodic Table arranges all the elements according to their properties and the sizes of their atoms. As the atoms get bigger, they get more unstable, emit radiation and tend to be used for assassinations, smoke detectors and nuclear weapons.
Physics theory predicts that as the atom size continues to increase we will eventually stagger into a region of really big atoms that are once again stable. If you have nothing better to do, you can see where The Island of Stability is if you plot the number of protons in the nucleus vs the number of neutrons in the nucleus, like so:
The elements made from the atoms that lurk up in the top right corner of the plot are called superheavy elements and they might have weird and wonderful properties. For example, they might go on diets all the time. Science-based thrillers might even be written about them. Who knows?
But one of the things we know for sure about the superheavy elements is that they will cost millions and maybe billions of dollars to make, because you will need a particle accelerator. So if you go down this road, it will be one expensive trip, solo or not.
Particle accelerators use massive amounts of electricity and nobody is giving that away these days, but to run a really powerful accelerator you also need to take out extremely expensive insurance against the possibility that you might accidentally create a tiny black hole that could expand and swallow the entire Earth. As you can imagine, this would be very bad. And costly to repair. And who would be the beneficiary? You thought your car insurance premium was bad. Try insuring a planet.
Here are some other potential properties of superheavy elements that some people have suggested:
1) The elements 113 and 114 mark the beginning of the 7p elements. Because of large relativistic spin–orbit effects on the 7p orbitals, these metals are expected to be more volatile than their lighter homologues.
2) Sg (element 106) is expected to be very refractory in the elemental state but should form volatile halides, oxide halides, oxide hydroxides and carbonyls.
3) Element 113 might give off a weird odor such as Chanel No.122. Or burning pepper. Or maybe cooked asparagus.
4) Element 118 is expected to avoid eye contact, and appear vaguely shifty at all times. It may be able to demagnetize the stripes on your plastic at distances of 10 metres or more. Do not even think about dating this element. Or worse yet, marrying it.
Well, at this point it’s abundantly clear that there are lots of exciting possibilities for solo vacations. So plan that trip now. The sky’s the limit, and you don’t have to answer to anyone.
A couple of helpful closing tips:
Helpful Closing Tip #1: Do not, and I repeat, do not drink unfiltered water from rivers, lakes, ponds and ditches on your trip. Otherwise you might end up with laryngeal hirudiniasis. Laryngeal hirudiniasis is easily mistaken for asthma due to progressively worsening coughing and wheezing. Laryngeal hirudiniasis is also known as “having a live leech fastened to some part of your airway.” WARNING: YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO UNSEE THE FOLLOWING IMAGES. DON’T LOOK. I MEAN IT.
You looked. I knew you would. To make you feel better though, I’m reproducing some tweets from a site that posted the images from the paper:
-So was it the leech that had asthma?
-Everyone should have a pet.
Helpful Closing Tip #2: Try not to overpack. You’ll regret it. Even if your backpack was only $49.95 at Hammacher Schlemmer. (Motto: We know lots of great chiropractors!)