Friday, December 7, 2012

The Dearth of Chipmunk Talk

 Helium Shortage, 2012

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

In case you’ve been wondering why there don’t seem to be as many people walking around talking like chipmunks lately, I have it on good authority—or at least the authority of the young man shown here, and who am I to question him?—that there’s a shortage of helium gas.
I saw a television show recently about how helium is used by people who commit suicide rather than endure the horrible pain and suffering of certain terminal diseases. Apparently, their helium tanks are petite and pink and as close as the local party supply store.
But that must be different helium than the kind used for these big balloons. If I’d paid more attention in chemistry class I might understand the difference. But my knowledge of helium goes no deeper than a single helium element on the Periodic Chart. (“He,” if I recall correctly.)
Whatever kind it is, it took about thirty of these cylindrical tanks of it to fill the half dozen or so balloons shown. When I asked the guy in charge whether they ever take a quick huff of the gas to play with silly chipmunk voices, he answered seriously that the shortage of helium is so severe that they can’t waste precious gas on such frivolity and that, in fact, he was thinking about complaining to the company that supplied these tanks because he was convinced they weren’t filled to the capacity for which he’d paid.
I guess working around helium is like when my wife worked in a bakery during college. At first, all that sugar and icing seemed so enticing. But after a few days it was just so much colored sludge.

1 comment:

  1. Yikes. I think it actually can be dangerous to inhale helium--I guess it's all in how you do it? it's entertaining to hear how peoples' voices sound, but I guess you do have to be careful. Strange to hear there's a helium shortage. Wonderful colorful photo!