Monday, January 17, 2005

Element #2

Good morning campers, today's element is helium. Two protons, two neutrons, two electrons (mostly). This is the standard helium-4 that is by far the most common form on Earth. Helium-3 is interesting, though, because it has the potential to be used as fuel for a fusion reactor. It's found mainly on the Lunar surface and on Jupiter, according to many science fiction stories.

As a chemical, helium is pretty boring. As a noble gas, it's pretty tough to get it to react with anything. However, it's lighter than air, and safer than hydrogen, so it's regularily used to fill balloons. And get this, it's actually mined from the ground.

The best use of helium, once it has passed its useful life as a balloon-weight-reducer, is to breathe it in. As you well know, this makes your voice sound pretty funny. It has to do with the different speed of sound in helium, which changes the way the waves are created in your larynx...

Well, that's about all I have to say about this lovely second element. I'll be back tomorrow with stories about lithium.


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12:45 AM  

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