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anchorite

Anchorite is, by far, the heaviest element known to science. And “by far” doesn’t begin to do it justice. What’s more, anchorite is so weird that even science is denying its existence out of fear that science might be shunned at parties if it recognizes anchorite.

Wiener Von Chienchaud is a virtually unknown physicist who is said (although the claims are doubted in rational circles) to be very highly regarded in a psychotic savant sort of way by the three people who know him: A homeless person who hangs out in the general vicinity of Von Chienchaud’s home in Beenbahd, Germany; a ballerina who Von Chienchaud once tripped in a vain attempt to meet her (she snarled and walked on after getting his particulars for insurance and lawsuit purposes); and his “cleaning lady,” whom he pays generously to come in once a week and “clean his clock” (wink, wink; nudge, nudge; say no more, say no more). Von Chienchaud is also the only physicist—or person of any occupation for that matter—who has ever been able to isolate, capture and study an anchorite atom.

At last count, Von Chienchaud found that an anchorite atom, or, at least, his anchorite atom, has approximately 1,348,538,353,210,042 protons and 1,423,431,843,987,442 neutrons. However, he hasn’t finished counting, so both numbers may, in reality, be much higher. Von Chienchaud has not yet had a chance to count the electrons in his pet atom, but he plans to do that after lunch.

Von Chienchaud had hoped to be able to plot the anchorite atom on a periodic table of elements, but he couldn’t find a piece of paper large enough. He’s tried to contract a paper manufacturer to make a suitably sized page, which Von Chienchaud calculates will have to be roughly the size of Rhode Island unless he uses an unreadably small font, but doing so will require customized equipment that must be handmade. Von Chienchaud has only $4.23 to his name and another $5.17 in a desk drawer that refuses to have anything to do with his name despite being owned by him. So far, he hasn’t been able to find a papermaker willing to produce the necessary page for $9.40 or, preferably, less.

Despite its phenomenal atomic and mass numbers, as they are called, a single anchorite atom is no bigger than the smallest of hydrogen atoms. Yet, it can be as heavy as a decent-sized, standard-issue ship’s anchor (hence the element’s name).

Some unnamed physicists in the witness protection program have theorized that a single anchorite atom might serve as a kernel of a black hole that will grow to the point where it can swallow whole solar systems in a single gulp. This has Von Chienchaud’s neighbours more than a little nervous.

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