By Brandon :D
There is a serious helium shortage. Some people (like I used to) think that helium is produced in a lab where everyone has really squeaky voices. No, it has to be mined and extracted from natural gas. There are only 16 plants that extract helium from natural gas. How do we get so much? Some plants don't even work to full capacity. It's truly amazing isn't it?
What would we do without the squeaky voices? The Macy's floats? How would car dealers advertise without the mini-blimps? I frankly don't know. Do we attach fans to the bottom of balloons? Do we suspend the blimps to strings that are attached to buildings?
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade this year tried to repack the helium into the containers. That's a valiant effort, but it's far too late. In 2006, a tank of helium was $18. In 2007, it was $38. That's over double! One scientist predicts that all helium will be gone in 10 years at most, if nothing is done to mine and extract more.
The gas is used for more serious things, also. They are used to power high-power lasers. It is also used for a variety other things like to cool MRI machines, make flat screen TVs, and to send rockets into space. But it's the small business toy stores that are really breaking the bank for it.
Helium is running low, costing people hundreds. It's sad, but true. Helium is definitely not light matter.(Pun intended.)