Argon works better. It's a noble gas.

But this will surely put a dent in record sales for chipmunks.
I predict that nothing whatsoever will be done about this until we're down to the very last bits of helium, at which point, people will frantically try to save it, spending probably 100 or 200 times more than what it would have cost if more reasonable measures were taken right now.

Because that's exactly the same way the human race reacts to every depletion of non-renewable resources.
I'm confused. When we "dissipate" helium, what happens to it? It just shoots off into space? I mean, it's an element. It's not like it burns off. So unless it's actually leaving our gravity well, it's around somewhere.

Obviously it might be too expensive to retrieve -- if it's in the ionosphere or something -- but I'm not clear from the article on where it's going, exactly.
@1 - Helium is a noble gas, too.

Argon and helium are nothing alike. For starters, Argon is heavier than the rest of the air around us.
We'll be out of electricity by then, so the helium reserves will be just fine.
@ 3. That's exactly what happens. It evaporates from the atmosphere and is gone forever, since it is so light.
@3 Yep, that's pretty much it. It's light enough to escape the Earth's gravity well. To be sure, it's a slow process, but once it's gone, it's a bitch to go get more, even if it makes up about 24% of our galaxy by weight. Them stars is hot! There should be a bunch on Jupiter, but oh, man, those shipping charges!
We just have to wait for the next supernova. No big deal. We're due for one somewhere in our galaxy in the next couple thousand years.
@1, Argon does not work for cryogenic purposes for which helium is used. Liquid helium has a boiling point of about 4 K at 1 atm, whereas liquid argon is about 87 K.
The Sun has PLENTY of Helium, we just need to go and grab some. Don't know what's the big deal :P
@1, etc. Three sentences, three errors. Argon is not "better"; Helium is also a noble gas; the Chipmunks did record their high voices using helium (he sped up the tape).

This has been a Will in Seattle moment, brought to you by Massengill.

No supernova needed. That nice, warm sunlight we're enjoying today is a natural byproduct of the everyday fusion of hydrogen into helium.
I like that Will seems to think that noble gases are called "noble" because they have a higher quality of character.

Argon would never have impregnated your daughter! It's better than that. Not like that dirty fucking Helium. Wait, Helium is noble? Then, uh... Oxygen! Lousy bastard.
Xenon is even better than argon. Next to xenon, argon and helium are pretty wimpy. Xenon's really heavy. In fact, heavy metal was named in xenon's honor. And that Warrior Princess, also. You could look it up.
Dang, there go my plans for a helium-fueled hovercar ...
besides, everyone knows that Helium is on Mars. It's right across the canal from Helios.
@18. I'm dumb. I don't get it. Explain it to me, Will.
To the Moon! It has plenty of that sweet Helium-3 stuff, after all.
It's a good thing we spent all that time in the fifties figuring out how to make the stuff out of hydrogen.
@13, did you mean 'didn't'?
This is really irresponsible reporting… (Not surprising. We are talking about The Independent UK.)

“But in 1996, the US passed the Helium Privatisation Act which directed that this reserve should be sold by 2015 at a price that would substantially pay off the federal government's original investment in building up the reserve” or “irrespective of the market price” as they say earlier in the article.

In this case, the way the pricing component is written, it requires the Helium to be sold at a price above market price, not below, as the article dishonestly implies.

Go here for a more thoughtful analysis of some really rather meaningless legislation.…

You’ll learn that:

“…the price it establishes for the sale of crude helium from the Federal Helium Reserve is approximately 25 percent above the current commercial price for this material.” And that “All helium refiners on the BLM pipeline have long-term take-or-pay contracts that require them to buy a negotiated quantity of helium from natural gas producers each year, regardless of whether they store it, refine it, or vent it. Because of these long-term contracts, it is highly unlikely that the refining industry will buy and use gas from the Federal Helium Reserve rather than from private stockpiles or cheaper commercial suppliers.”

And as to those plummeting, glut driven, helium prices: Look them up too…

Crude Helium Price
$ per Mcf
FY-2010 (OCT 2009-SEP 2010) $64.75
FY-2009 (OCT 2008-SEP 2009) $62.25
FY-2008 (OCT 2007-SEP 2008) $60.50
FY-2007 (OCT 2006-SEP 2007) $58.75
FY-2006 (OCT 2005-SEP 2006) $56.50
FY-2005 (OCT 2004-SEP 2005) $54.50
FY-2004 (OCT 2003-SEP 2004) $54.00
FY-2003 (OCT 2002-SEP 2003) $52.50
FY-2002 (OCT 2001-SEP 2002) $51.50
FY-2001 (OCT 2000-SEP 2001) $50.00
FY-2000 (OCT 1999-SEP 2000) $49.50
FY-1999 (OCT 1998-SEP 1999) $49.00
FY-1998 (OCT 1997-SEP 1998) $47.00

I’ll be damned! They’re going up… like Helium.

Congress can legislate that Helium be offered for sale at the price it sets… but (unlike health care) it has not found a constitutional right to force anyone to buy it at that price.

This is just British Greenies trying to blame the ol' USA (those bastards!) for destroying the earth again…
because of radioactive decay a helium balloon is essentially a bag of retired alpha particles...

& because of mental decay and a general boorish nature Will in Seattle is a completely different kind of bag of gas...
@3, Yes this does happen although there are more rapid escape mechanisms, e.g. solar wind near the poles. Interesting enough, helium levels in the atmosphere are used by creationists as an argument that the earth is 6,000 years old.

The main reason why helium is "lost" when it goes into the atmosphere is that helium makes up a very small percentage of the atmosphere and extracting it from air is very expensive. The main source of helium is natural gas which is a resource in rapid decline.
Right @12, we'll go there at night, that'll make things a lot easier...
Hey, I have an idea!

If we make fewer Helium bombs, we'll have more helium for balloons!

Now if only retired alpha particles don't get their pensions cut by Comrade Rossi, we should be ok, right?
@22, yes, I meant "didn't". Fnarf sense fail. I'm very ashamed. If I'm going to bag on Will's stupidity I should guard against my own, eh?
To be fair he didn't say that helium ISN'T a noble gas.
We don't need helium. We need valium.
We may have to increase our sheetcake production to compensate, but I'm prepared for a world without helium balloons.
@29 of course I didn't.

Even if it's pervy that Fnarf lusts after Xenon - wasn't she on Disney channel?
Watching Will trying to come up with a joke is like watching this:…

He knows that people do it, but he doesn't know how, and he doesn't know why.
@32, @33 It's so edifying to see two people so in love! When you two finally tie the knot, can I be your flower girl?
The moon has so much helium, it's disgusting.
@35: Hardly. There's more helium in the regolith there than here -- but "more" is about 25 parts per million, and extracting that from all the rock would be difficult. The Earth has all these nice natural gas deposits that can run as high as 7% (i.e., 70000 ppm) helium, and that's a whole lot easier to get at; failing that, even the 5 ppm in the atmosphere doesn't require lofting an entire excavation and refinery industry into orbit.

Please wait...

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