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Helium stocks run low – and party balloons are to blame

 
  • Helium stocks run low – and party balloons are to blame

    The world supply of helium, which is essential in research and medicine, is being squandered, say scientists

    ....

    Earth only has a limited supply of helium, which is released as a by-product of the petrochemical industry. Essentially, pockets of the gas are disturbed during gas and oil drilling and rise to the surface. In the 1920s the US decided helium would be a strategic resource. It realised that air power would be crucial in future wars, and assumed that these would be fought by airships that would use helium to float. "The US created a vast stockpile of billions of litres of helium in the 1920s and kept it until the late 1990s, when it decided to sell it off," said Jonathan Flint, the CEO of Oxford Instruments, whose scanners and other devices use helium for cooling.

    For the past decade that vast stockpile has been sold off, causing prices to plummet. "Helium was cheap and we learned to be wasteful with it," said Kirichek. "Now the stockpile is used up, prices are rising and we are realising how stupid we have been."

    Professor Robert Richardson, of Cornell University, New York, who won the Nobel physics prize in 1996 for his research on helium, argues that a helium party balloon should cost £75, to reflect the true value of the gas used. Yet you can buy enough helium to float 200 balloons for that price. "We are squandering an irreplaceable resource," he says.

  • God bless Helium balloons and squeaky voices.

    Seriously though, the Earth has limited resources of everything, but it makes no difference because we consume everything.

    "I never picked cotton"
    • dankine sa...
    • Användare
    • 21 mar 2012, 14:15
    mickeymay1968 said:
    God bless Helium balloons and squeaky voices.

    Seriously though, the Earth has limited resources of everything, but it makes no difference because we consume everything.


    so just sod economical use of any materials because we consume them anyway?

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know"

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    • Skiye sa...
    • Event Moderator
    • 22 mar 2012, 17:59
    how come petrol cant suffer the same occurrence? it costs me a lot to commute back and forth to work, but its still cheaper to live where i do than pay for rentals/own property that are in the same city where i work.

    • [Raderad användare] sa...
    • Användare
    • 22 mar 2012, 23:14
    mickeymay1968 said:
    God bless Helium balloons and squeaky voices.

    Seriously though, the Earth has limited resources of everything, but it makes no difference because we consume everything.
    This

    It's in abundance in the Universe surely, we'll be going out there soon if we don't destroy the planet and space programs.

  • dankine said:
    mickeymay1968 said:
    God bless Helium balloons and squeaky voices.

    Seriously though, the Earth has limited resources of everything, but it makes no difference because we consume everything.


    so just sod economical use of any materials because we consume them anyway?


    That's not what I meant, but people have been trying to save the rain forests for decades with little success.

    Anyway, I listened to a radio program the other day, in which a doctor was saying that he believed the helium used for balloons was the recycled gas and not the high grade material used in MIR scanners.

    "I never picked cotton"
  • DaddyPobbin said:
    mickeymay1968 said:
    God bless Helium balloons and squeaky voices.

    Seriously though, the Earth has limited resources of everything, but it makes no difference because we consume everything.
    This

    It's in abundance in the Universe surely, we'll be going out there soon if we don't destroy the planet and space programs.


    I would like to think so.
    Sir Patrick Moore makes a good point too, in that it was only sixty seven years between The Wright brothers first short flight and Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon. To be honest I think our generation has been seriously lacking when it comes to what has been achieved in the past.

    "I never picked cotton"
    • dankine sa...
    • Användare
    • 23 mar 2012, 20:35
    mickeymay1968 said:

    That's not what I meant, but people have been trying to save the rain forests for decades with little success.

    Yeah you're right, let's just give up.

    mickeymay1968 said:
    To be honest I think our generation has been seriously lacking when it comes to what has been achieved in the past.

    Another absolutely incredible statement to make.

    The internet isn't worth mentioning among human feats? It being quite possibly one of the most important "inventions" in our history. Let alone all the other advances that happen every day.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know"

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  • mickeymay1968 said:
    That's not what I meant, but people have been trying to save the rain forests for decades with little success.
    .

    Wrong.It has been very successful in most of South America, espescially in Brazil. In Africa and Asia not so much, but with strong government it has been done.


    Anyway, I listened to a radio program the other day, in which a doctor was saying that he believed the helium used for balloons was the recycled gas and not the high grade material used in MIR scanners
    From a scientific perspective that makes no sense. Helium is helium, you can't get high and low quality helium. Recycled helium is still helium.

    • Bloopy sa...
    • Forum Moderator
    • 24 mar 2012, 09:37
    It's not completely irreplaceable. We first created helium in the lab in 1907. They'll figure out a more efficient way to make helium eventually, or creating it will become a viable option regardless. But yeah, in the meantime the stockpile should be treated for what it's worth, maybe set aside a portion of it for medical use only.

    yellowcarpet said:
    From a scientific perspective that makes no sense. Helium is helium, you can't get high and low quality helium. Recycled helium is still helium.
    They're referring to how pure it is. You could have a mixture that's 75% helium and 25% air and still use it in a balloon, it doesn't really matter. It costs more to supply 99.999% helium.

  • Bloopy said:
    yellowcarpet said:
    From a scientific perspective that makes no sense. Helium is helium, you can't get high and low quality helium. Recycled helium is still helium.
    They're referring to how pure it is. You could have a mixture that's 75% helium and 25% air and still use it in a balloon, it doesn't really matter. It costs more to supply 99.999% helium.
    But I would assume purifying helium is not something too difficult to do. So it is still wasting.

  • dankine said:
    mickeymay1968 said:

    That's not what I meant, but people have been trying to save the rain forests for decades with little success.

    Yeah you're right, let's just give up.

    mickeymay1968 said:
    To be honest I think our generation has been seriously lacking when it comes to what has been achieved in the past.

    Another absolutely incredible statement to make.

    The internet isn't worth mentioning among human feats? It being quite possibly one of the most important "inventions" in our history. Let alone all the other advances that happen every day.


    Not when you consider we've been to the moon, one of the by products was the prototype of the computers we have today. Even the internet was being used back in the sixties and seventies by the military, so not even really of our generation.

    "I never picked cotton"
  • yellowcarpet said:
    mickeymay1968 said:
    That's not what I meant, but people have been trying to save the rain forests for decades with little success.
    .

    Wrong.It has been very successful in most of South America, espescially in Brazil. In Africa and Asia not so much, but with strong government it has been done.


    Anyway, I listened to a radio program the other day, in which a doctor was saying that he believed the helium used for balloons was the recycled gas and not the high grade material used in MIR scanners
    From a scientific perspective that makes no sense. Helium is helium, you can't get high and low quality helium. Recycled helium is still helium.


    Apparently you can.

    "I never picked cotton"
    • lawynd sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 24 mar 2012, 19:44
    'Our generation' is a fairly nebulous tag to use, unless you know the age of everyone in the conversation. Off the top of my head though, since the 1980s (given that mickeymay quantified his previous post with 'sixties and seventies'), we have:

    - Advanced knowledge and understanding of particle and astrophysics massively through endeavours such as Hubble, the International Space Station and various CERN projects (the large-hadron collider, large electron-positron collider and the creation of antimatter).

    - Saved the lives of possibly millions of people with advances such as the artificial heart, AIDS inhibitors, synthetic insulin, articulated replacement limbs and stem-cell research.

    - The next step of technical evolution with quantum computing only started in 1982.

    - We're closer to fusion power generation than ever before, thanks to advances in laser-based fusion.

    Official recorder of Schrödinger's Tampon.

    Quote of the moment - "They tried to get me to eat haggis but I couldn't stomach it."
  • About the rainforests though, I thought a couple of years ago they were having problems with illegal logging?

    "I never picked cotton"
    • dankine sa...
    • Användare
    • 24 mar 2012, 21:12
    give up mickey, just digging a hole.
    btw darpanet != the internet

    if you want to talk about prototype computers, talk about turing. not nasa.

    saying the fact that we have been to the moon pales in comparison to instant global communication (not to mention the knowledge) is just unreal.

    your generation != my generation either.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know"

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  • When it comes to recent inventions, I am surprised no-one has mentioned mobile phones, they changed a lot about the world.

    mickeymay1968 said:
    About the rainforests though, I thought a couple of years ago they were having problems with illegal logging?

    They were, but Brazil (which was the main illegall logging country), has done very well in combating illegal logging.

  • dankine said:
    give up mickey, just digging a hole.
    btw darpanet != the internet

    if you want to talk about prototype computers, talk about turing. not nasa.

    saying the fact that we have been to the moon pales in comparison to instant global communication (not to mention the knowledge) is just unreal.

    your generation != my generation either.


    The point I was trying to make, was that in less than seventy years, we went from never having achieved heavier than air flight, to going to the moon. If that had never happened, neither would global communications, because obviously we would not have satelites. I don't know about digging a hole dankine, but I'm obviously getting rather off topic here.
    Mind you, saying that if flight was still the domain of balloons and airships, perhaps the helium would be completely exhausted.

    "I never picked cotton"
  • yellowcarpet said:
    When it comes to recent inventions, I am surprised no-one has mentioned mobile phones, they changed a lot about the world.

    mickeymay1968 said:
    About the rainforests though, I thought a couple of years ago they were having problems with illegal logging?

    They were, but Brazil (which was the main illegall logging country), has done very well in combating illegal logging.


    I stand corrected. Perhaps someone will figure out a way to clone wood in the future.

    "I never picked cotton"
    • dankine sa...
    • Användare
    • 25 mar 2012, 14:42
    mickeymay1968 said:
    The point I was trying to make, was that in less than seventy years, we went from never having achieved heavier than air flight, to going to the moon. If that had never happened, neither would global communications, because obviously we would not have satelites.

    Complete crap btw. We don't need to have sent man to the moon to be able to have orbital satellites. Not saying it didn't help, but it isn't a requirement.

    mickeymay1968 said:
    I stand corrected. Perhaps someone will figure out a way to clone wood in the future.


    Erm, people have been cloning plants for thousands of years...

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"
    "I don't want to believe, I want to know"

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  • The internet is a fine example for the chasm between the evolution of technology,
    and the progression of our social intelligence. Decent people loose their manners,
    arguments and reason are countered with bitterness, masked as cynicism.
    Discussion are being made personal, instead of being over the topic.

    The internet, as mass communication, as the letterpress printing before,
    have a great potential, but it will always be used for varying ends and means.

    It stands without question, that the written word, the same in which form,
    is evil, because if god wanted us the write, we would have ink in our veins.

    I like the point of byproducts. Often things are invented, and found, when people
    were looking in a completely different direction, achieving something they
    weren't looking for. Correlations are more often, than they are being credited for.

    As for general achievements in generations, the historical context often plays
    a role, it there a pressure, fear of anything, is a society recovering from a war,
    has there been a occurrence that inspires people, has there been an event
    that let people forget their petty rivalries and join for a common reason.

    A great problem for the rain forests these days are charcoal briquets
    for the barbecue. There is not much word about it in the news. And then
    there is the lobby, for logging they will not be less strong as the one for
    the meat and milk industry. And the point is not the moral or ethic, but
    the one if the information are true, shaped,or blatant lies.

    People say they want to know the truth, but often enough
    they are okay, when what is presented to them, is good
    enough to be believed to be the truth.

    What can science do, and what can't science do, some years
    ago we were still burning books, and some years before that,
    we were burning witches, and throwing women off cliffs, when
    they dared to write their thoughts down in written word, so
    maybe, just maybe, when we're one step out of the door
    form the dark ages, we should be careful to state,
    what science is possible to do.

    This comment is an insidious yet disorganized attempt to tear down your
    old mental paradigms without offering anything with which to replace them
    • lawynd sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 27 mar 2012, 10:21
    mickeymay1968 said:
    The point I was trying to make, was that in less than seventy years, we went from never having achieved heavier than air flight, to going to the moon. If that had never happened, neither would global communications, because obviously we would not have satelites. I don't know about digging a hole dankine, but I'm obviously getting rather off topic here.
    Mind you, saying that if flight was still the domain of balloons and airships, perhaps the helium would be completely exhausted.
    If lots of things had never happened, we wouldn't have achieved powered flight. Newton not being born might have put the kibosh on that, or at least delayed it significantly. And where would we be at all if we hadn't discovered fire and the wheel? Whilst previous endeavours must be acknowledged, they take nothing away from achievements that are built upon them.

    Official recorder of Schrödinger's Tampon.

    Quote of the moment - "They tried to get me to eat haggis but I couldn't stomach it."
    • Maggot66 sa...
    • Användare
    • 9 apr 2012, 01:17
    It's almost sad how fast we bleed Earth dry of materials. There are things we can compensate for or synthesize, but in the end it's just not the same.

    Long live rock 'n roll.
    • sterkly sa...
    • Användare
    • 13 apr 2012, 16:33
    so when is the World Chipmunk Voice Contest?

    Do you build apps? Get more users with sterkly
  • no matter how hard we try and save mother Earth. sad to say we can't. if we had "Nobody is Rich Today", that one im sure of :D

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