March 19th, 2012
No. Really. The dwindling supply is threatening vital science. It would seem that children's parties and the squeeky-voiced are to blame.
The Guardian reports:
"Oleg Kirichek, the leader of a research team at the Isis neutron beam facility at the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, had an unpleasant shock last week. One of his key experiments, designed to probe the structure of matter, had to be cancelled – because the facility had run out of helium.
The gas, used to cool atoms to around -270C to reduce their vibrations and make them easier to study, is now becoming worryingly scarce, said Kirichek. Research facilities probing the structure of matter, medical scanners and other advanced devices that use the gas may soon have to reduce operations or close because we are frittering away the world's limited supplies of helium on party balloons."
For a remarkably potential species, we really are idiots.
Gawker chimes in with their dry wit HERE.