The Science Of Helium, Why Global Supplies Are Running Low : Short Wave Encore episode. Helium is the second-most common element in the cosmos, but it's far rarer on planet Earth. As part of our celebration of the periodic table's 150th birthday, correspondent Geoff Brumfiel shares a brief history of helium's ascent, to become a crucial part of rocket ships, MRI machines, and birthday parties.

Read more of Geoff's reporting on helium here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
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The World Is Constantly Running Out Of Helium

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The World Is Constantly Running Out Of Helium

The World Is Constantly Running Out Of Helium

The World Is Constantly Running Out Of Helium

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/865701529/865980022" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

An Afghan boy sells balloons in Kabul. We shouldn't worry about using helium for celebrations because, as one expert says, "The helium that's used in party balloons gets everybody to care about this resource." Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP hide caption

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Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

An Afghan boy sells balloons in Kabul. We shouldn't worry about using helium for celebrations because, as one expert says, "The helium that's used in party balloons gets everybody to care about this resource."

Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

Encore episode. Helium is the second-most common element in the cosmos, but it's far rarer on planet Earth. As part of our celebration of the periodic table's 150th birthday, correspondent Geoff Brumfiel shares a brief history of helium's ascent, to become a crucial part of rocket ships, MRI machines, and birthday parties.