99 red balloons and a world without helium
Like many other fossil fuels the world is being depleted of helium. If helium goes up and never comes down where does it come from? The U.S. Federal Helium Reserve of course.
Helium on earth is found trapped in natural gas. The biggest natural reserves in the United States are under the great plains. In addition to the sun, and the great plains, helium also comes from Russia, Algeria and Qatar. But, as you probably know, the underground reserves of all fossil fuels world wide will be used up in the next 100 years.
Even though the Helium Reserve is securely anchored to the ground it won’t be there forever. The Federal Reserve is down to 19 billion cubic feet of helium and the national research council says there might only be 45 years of helium left in the world. The Helium Reserve is in $debt and pure helium is being auctioned off.
Nena knows when you “Set them free at the break of dawn, one by one they are gone”. But it’s not all about funny voices and red balloons. Helium is used for rocket engines, diving equipment, MRI scans, micro chip manufacturing, and it also makes sunlight.
Ok, it is only partially responsible for making sunlight. Hydrogen and gravity make sunlight by crushing hydrogen atoms together which makes helium and other elements. So the sun is not in danger of having low helium reserves and neither is the galaxy.
Helium is best known as a way to raise your balloons, your spirits, and your voice. And it’s not too late to buy a lifetime supply now – you can be the last clown on your block to own the original voice toner – who will be laughing then?
Who was the first guy to suck it up? And why? Helium was discovered in 1903. So we have barely had a hundred years of fun with it. To put this into perspective, 50 years from now no one will ever hear another helium voice again. Two hundred years from now no ear will ever remember that little slice of fun shine.
Mark Twain said “ I wonder how much it would take to buy a soap bubble, if there were only one in the world?” It will be the same price as the last laughable breath of helium. Do yourself a favor , suck some today and say something meaningless to someone you love.
While you can.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a division of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. They supply 35% of the world crude helium to refiners and they have this to say about that: Inhaling helium is not a good idea. Because helium is less dense than air, inhaling it creates the potential for collapsed lungs.
So if you work there don’t get caught singing happy birthday to your co-workers in a high pitched voice.
Visit the BLM and learn more about helium.