Helium

Symbol He and the second element on the periodic table

When and who discovered it :

Helium was discovered in 1868 by French astronomer Pierre Janssen. He discovered it in India,

while observing a solar eclipse he noticed the yellow spectral emission lines of the element. Before it was thought that helium only existed in the sun because it couldn't be made in a lab, that was until 1895 when Sir William Ramsay did an experiment with cleveite. The cleveite was exposed to mineral acids and then he collected the Helium gas it produced.

Also in the same year two Swedish chemists, Per Teodor Cleve and Nils Abraham, independently discovered Helium.

The origin of the name :

Helium's name is derived from the Greek God " Helios " the God of the sun which is where helium was first detected.

Uses :

As Helium is lighter than air it is used to fill decorative balloons, weather balloons and airships so that they will rise and stay up in the sky.

Helium in its liquid form is used to keep satellite instruments from overheating.

It is also used to detect leaks, for example in a car air-conditioning system, it is also used to inflate car air-bags.

For people working under pressurized conditions (such as deep- sea divers) they use a mixture of

80% Helium and 20% oxygen as a artificial atmosphere.

A gas laser used to scan barcodes in supermarkets is a Helium-Neon one.

Helium is also used in rocket fuel.

So we now use helium for lots of things besides filling up balloons.

Supply and demand :

Even though Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, it's actually quite rare here on Earth. The way we collect Helium is from minerals extracted from underground. The USA produces 78% of the worlds Helium. Other producers include North Africa, The Middle East, and Russia, thanks to these deposits the increasing demand for Helium is being met. The reason helium is rare is that if you lose helium you can't get it back because when released it mixes with the air higher up.

So next time if you have a helium balloon make sure not to lose it, otherwise you're just being wasteful.

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