Everyone knows the two main properties of helium. It is lighter than air and also is capable of making your voice a couple octaves higher when you breathe it in.
People have been playing with helium and these two uses since time immemorial. But lately we’ve been made to feel guilty about that by the world helium shortage. Well the article I linked to says that there never really was a serious helium shortage and that, besides, the newest and possibly largest helium mine is about to start production soon. So no more guilt.
I find it especially informative that they came up with a list of the top helium uses. I find this odd because helium is a noble gas that mostly doesn’t react with anything. The noble gases are called inert gases because of this.
So what possibly could be the uses of helium by industry? Well I am taking my life in my own hands by revealing some of what goes on behind the scenes.
The largest use of helium is for MRI machines – or 20% of the world’s helium. This is of course doctors trying to impress their colleagues with their voice changing skills. You might not believe me but I believe there is a smoking gun. If there is also a large use at those same hospitals for sulphur hexafluoride (the voice lowering gas), then I believe that these doctors are playing with their voices.
At 17% welding is the second most common use of helium. This is of course nothing more than tradespeople getting in on the fun. If you can find me a trade that doesn’t use welding from time to time, I can show you the only honest tradespeople who aren’t playing with helium.
At 10%, scientific use is the third biggest user of helium. I have more insight into this group because I almost became a scientist at a stage in my life. The scientists know all about sulphur hexafluoride, too. In fact they like to put on little plays where the males use helium and the females use sulphur hexafluoride. This makes the plays gender bending.
8% of the helium users were honest and said they made lighter than air balloons out of helium. Yawn.
At 6% and 3%, pressurizing and controlled atmosphere uses are obviously most concerned with the lighter than air properties of helium. It is here where they do experiments like how many helium balloons does it take to lift a woman in a lawn chair. Or more importantly, how many balloons would it really take to move that house in Up. Hint: it’s a lot more than shown in the movie.
At 4% cryogenics is of course lying to us just like they lie to the corpsicles -er- patients.
The last admitted use is for breathing/saturation diving. This is of course scuba divers making their voices comically high.
Now that I have outed all the users of helium I suspect more people will take up helium as a hobby to impress their friends. Soon they can do it guilt free knowing that the helium shortage will be over.