Codebreaker

What helium means in a world of screens

author198 Aug 25, 2010

Nobel laureate and Cornell University physics professor Robert Richardson has a warning about helium.  The world is running out of it. And that could mean a lot to the tech world.

He says, “It will be impossible to have MRI machines without the liquid helium to cool the magnets.”

Helium is also used in fiberoptic cables – it helps keep the signals strong.  All those screens in our lives? The LCD screens – those need helium, too.  We need helium for telescopes and NASA uses it to clean out rocket engines.

Richardson co-chaired an inquiry into the world’s dwindling helium supply.  He just published a report recommending the price of helium go up 20-50 fold.  That would make it worthwhile for people to recover and recycle helium. And it would make balloons very expensive.

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