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Archive → October, 2007

Getting a rise out of helium

This post appeared originally on 22 October 2007 at the ScienceBlogs home of Terra Sigillata.

Sci/Med blogging is an interesting pastime. You can spend a tremendous amount of time writing a post and get two comments and 30 total viewers, or you can write a brief post about your daughter asking where helium comes from and get many more commenters and nearly a thousand viewers.

Clearly, the five-year-old is a better source for blog content. Q.E.D.

And, wow, what we have learned from our readers in response: one frequent Australian commenter, Chris Noble, confirmed the abundance of helium in Amarillo by noting their next shipment was indeed coming from Texas. Casey pointed us to an NPR story on the current helium shortage and Gretchen wistfully told us to stop filling our balloons so she could complete her experiments. Amarillo native, Biggs, noted the 50-foot high helium molecule in town – isn’t the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo too? (Those Amarillians seem to be enthusiastic about memorializing big things.).
Dave S. shared the tidbit that helium was detected on the Sun before it was found on Earth and Dr William Dyer told us that helium is a non-renewable resource because, while it is generated from radioactive alpha decay, the velocity of the particles is greater than the Earth’s escape velocity.

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