Rare metals and their scarcity aside, it seems that helium is not having such a great time either.
A chemist working with the University of Cambridge recently decided that, during this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, he was to make a speech pointing out the fact that, but for governments' worldwide banning the use of helium balloons at parties and other social gatherings, human society would soon be left without this rare gas.
It is Peter Wothers' firm belief that, seeing how helium is part and parcel of numerous medical procedures, it should not be wasted on trivial things like trying to entertain a crowd or making a restaurant look more festive.
Thus, it should instead be properly managed and only used for scientific and medical purposes.
For those unaware, helium is presently used to cool down the magnets found in MRI scanners, and also helps the sick breathe when mixed with air, Daily Mail
Since helium cannot (at least for the time being) be made artificially, it is this chemist's fear that overusing it on trivia will eventually lead to human society's coming face to face with some very serious and difficult to overcome problems.
As Peter Wothers puts it, “The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue. I can imagine that in 50 years' time our children will be saying, 'I can't believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons.'”
“If we keep using it for non-essential things like party balloons, where we're just letting it float off into space, we could be in for some serious problems in around 30 to 50 years' time,” this Cambridge chemist went on to add.
Although it is quite unlikely that helium balloons will be banned on a global scale anytime soon, Peter Wothers stands to at least convince some people to drop their using this rare gas to make party balloons fly.