Friday, August 15, 2008

Not the helium!!

Did you know there's apparently a helium shortage? There is. I was as shocked you. I hadn't noticed the price of party balloons has gone up significantly in the past 2 years. It has. But apparently, the 2nd most abundant element in the universe isn't very abundant on earth. Really? Yes, really. I never thought about how they got it in the tanks, I figured it was a simple process since there's so much helium. But I didn't exactly ace my way through chemistry either (B+). Isn't helium around us in the air with all the other gases? Sort of. It floats up through the sky and gets burned up. I suppose it makes sense when you watch balloons, but again, it's not something I'd ever thought much about. I suppose we should all spend more time thinking about the noble gases. So why the shortage? Low production. It has to be extracted from natural gas refining. The US had a strategic reserve of helium but they're getting rid of it. Strategic reserve? There's a lot of strategic things you can do with party balloons.... So when do we panic? 5 years ago. In the meantime, let's enjoy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade a little more this year.


  1. How BIZARRE. I'd never really thought about it either, but I blame that on our consumerist culture. Stuff is just always available... IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM.

    So like... our children's children may not be able to suck the helium out of balloons and sing chipmunk songs until they pass out? I weep for future generations.

  2. Weird. And you are weird for even discovering this.