0 Helium Balloons Will Cost $100 in the Near Future

floating balloon cluster
Photo credit: Phillyburbs.com
Robert Richardson won a Nobel prize in 1996 for his work on superfluidity in helium. He now fears the chemical element with an atomic number of 2 is being wasted at a rate that will soon have detrimental consequences on the world supply.

Richardson explained:
"There is no chemical means to make helium. The supplies we have on Earth come from radioactive alpha decay in rocks. Right now it's not commercially viable to recover helium from the air, so we have to rely on extracting it from rocks. But if we do run out altogether, we will have to recover helium from the air and it will cost 10,000 times what it does today."
A helium shortage would raise the price of party balloons from $3 to $100, says the scientist.
"Maybe in Europe there has been a conversation, but not in the US - and the US supplies nearly 80 per cent of the helium used in the world. The problem is that these supplies will run out in a mere 25 years, and the US government has a policy of selling helium at a ridiculously low price."
Other effects will include having to find alternative means of imitating Alvin, Simon and Theodore.

[via New Scientist]

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