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1
They should just look way up high, I bet it's all up there.
Posted by spock on September 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Report this
2
I'd vote for getting shuttles into space or MRIs... which apparently aren't funny enough to be included in your poll.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on September 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 3
There are ways of producing helium.

However, my belief is this country will put it off and put it off and put it off until the very last minute... then we will spend massive amounts of time and resources to do what could have been done much more efficiently if only we were proactive.

But that's pretty much how the U.S. deals with everything. This country can't help itself but to panic and shovel out billions upon billions of dollars to throw shit together at the last minute. We pay premium prices for second-rate produce.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 11, 2012 at 12:56 PM · Report this
4
Not only is the U.S. putting off this problem, but as I understand it, it's actively selling it's helium reserves at a reduced price due to law passed by Congress. This is a big problem as helium is used in many industrial process that make our wonderful consumer products possible.
Posted by easygimik on September 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
5
Come on you guys, there's tons of helium. The sun is made of helium, right? Nothing to worry about.
Posted by Jude Fawley on September 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM · Report this
6
Why hasn't the market reacted, and made helium too ridiculously expensive for frivolous things?
Posted by shotsix on September 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
7
There's way more potential for fun when kids balloons are full of hydrogen gas anyways....
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on September 11, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
treacle 8
I'm just sad that my children will never get floaty balloons for their birthday parties like I did when I was young. DAMN YOU 'BABY BOOMERS'!!!
Posted by treacle on September 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
9
@6 Because a law passed in 1996 that stipulates that the US supply of helium must be sold off by 2015. This has flooded the market and made helium too cheap to recycle.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on September 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 10
In completely unrelated news, it turns out that Al Qaida has a base of operations on the sun, which we will be invading shortly...
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on September 11, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
11
@3 You can make Helium? Explain.
Posted by michael bell on September 11, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
12
I am very much in favor of sun mining
Posted by redemma on September 11, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
Everyone knows it's better to use Hydrogen 3 from the Moon anyway ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on September 11, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
BostonFontSnob 14
@3 There is no practical way to synthesize large amounts of helium.
Posted by BostonFontSnob on September 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
15
@14 Exactly.
Posted by michael bell on September 11, 2012 at 1:40 PM · Report this
16
@shotsix

Because the US Government has the world's largest reserve of Helium. However, congress in their wisdom required the sell off of the Helium at a set price, not market prices. Until that supply is depleted, the market can't correct. Of course by then we'll almost be out of Helium.
Posted by arbeck http://www.facebook.com/arbeck on September 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 17
@11,
Fuse two hydrogen atoms together.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 11, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
18
Helium is a by-product of mining natural gas. As we're fracking up the whole country right now, let's hope the producers remember to capture the helium while they're at it.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on September 11, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
@16 and mineral mining plats and grazing fees.

Want to know why we eat so much meat? It's artificially subsidized.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on September 11, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
etone 20
@17: where do you plan to get the neutrons?
Posted by etone on September 11, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
21
Don't other countries have bunches of the stuff? That's my understanding. They'll sell it to America... at rapetastic prices.
Posted by Spike1382 on September 11, 2012 at 4:26 PM · Report this
22
@14, 20, etc: I'm guessing that capturing alpha particles from decaying radioisotopes would be prohibitively slow?
Posted by Ben on September 11, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
CATSPAW666 23
Helium is expensive now, not cheap. Mainly because Bush did, indeed, agree to sell off the Strategic Helium Reserve.

However, there are two new, large, Helium extraction plants coming on line soon, one in Quatar, and one in Algeria, and so, within 3-5 years, Helium should be more available, and, hopefully, a bit cheaper.

World demand for Helium is up, though- its primarily used for chip fab machinery in making semiconductors, and coolant in MRI machines. Both of those industries have deeper pockets than balloon buyers.
Posted by CATSPAW666 on September 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM · Report this
RobCrowe9 24
So Bush sold off the best substitute for hot air? Good on that, Dubya!
Posted by RobCrowe9 http://awidemargin.blogspot.com/ on September 11, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 25
@20,

Wal-mart.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 11, 2012 at 7:07 PM · Report this
26
Helium is the 2nd most abundant element in the universe, after Hydrogen. I don't think we'll "run out" of it. Ever.
Posted by montex on September 11, 2012 at 10:52 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 27
@1 Way up there. Helium drifts to the upper edge of our atmosphere, and over time is blown away by solar wind. Not that it would be easy to recover, even if it stuck around.

@26 Our universe never will. But we will.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on September 11, 2012 at 11:53 PM · Report this
28
Yep, we're screwed. All because we want to see things float and sound like a Smurf. There are worse things than not having an inert gas shield for arc welding, a high speed ‘push gas’ inside air-to-air missiles for guidance corrections, a protective gas in growing silicon and germanium crystals and in titanium and zirconium production, a cooling medium for nuclear reactors, artificial atmospheres for divers and others working under pressure, or cryogenics and superconductivity, supersonic wind tunnels, a pressurizing agent for liquid fuel rockets, a leak detection agent for extremely small leaks, isotopic dating by helium ratios (seawater, ocean beds, etc.), a helium cardiopulmonary resuscitation pump (heart surgery), or helium filled border patrol "AEROSTAT" monitoring blimps. (list shamelessly stollen from blm.gov, minus of course the first one on the list, balloons for parties).

And correct me if I'm wrong, but in that lovely Woody Allen clip if there was enough helium in the room for them to be speaking like that at all times, shouldn't the sound of the gun be higher pitched as well? I always knew there was a reason I hated Woody Allen films....
Posted by ace9415 on September 12, 2012 at 3:40 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 29
Nope; it wouldn't change the sound of the gun at all. The reason it makes your voice squeaky is that it constricts the vocal cords. It conducts sound just the same as normal air.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on September 12, 2012 at 3:49 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 30
Won't somebody think of the tech divers?
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on September 12, 2012 at 8:29 AM · Report this
31
Hydrogen fusion on earth is... doable, but expensive, and currently involves a net loss of energy. I'm not even certain the helium produced can be captured at a reasonable cost.
Posted by Woodbun on September 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
32
Time to mine the Sun!
Posted by butterw on September 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM · Report this
Badger 33
Great...now I'm gonna have to fill my airship with hydrogen instead.
Posted by Badger on September 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM · Report this

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