Today, the NYT writes about yet another bizarre interplay between government and private incentives – in this case, the helium market. The upshot seems to be that the days of getting a free balloon for getting your braces off might soon be over.
A spike in the price of helium will probably lead to a number of negative effects: higher prices for electronics, more restriction on a lot of scientific equipment that requires liquid helium, sad children. However, I have a secret reason for wanting the price to go up -there is a source of helium that the article completely neglected: The Moon.
The moon is likely to have stores of helium (and especially helium-3, a rare isotope that will be useful in the fusion reactions that are always 50 years away) locked in craters that have never seen sunlight and thus are cold enough to freeze the normally gaseous element.
Sadly, the likelihood of the price of helium skyrocketing high enough to spur actual sky-rocketing is probably quite low. Helium is found in most natural gas deposits but at low enough concentrations to not be worth extracting for now. In reality, tapping this source will probably be more cost-effective than hauling it from the moon, but one can always hope…
For more humor, go back and read the post in a helium-induced Mickey Mouse voice.