The United States is running out of helium.
Yes, helium. Thanks, in part, to a 1996 law that has forced the government to sell off its helium reserves at bargain-bin prices, the country’s stockpile of the relatively rare and nonrenewable gas could soon dwindle.
Party supply stores are already feeling the pinch, as recent helium shortfalls have driven up the price of helium-filled balloons. But it’s not birthday parties we should worry about. A severe helium shortage, experts say, would cause problems for large swaths of the economy, from medical scanners to welding to the manufacturing of optical fibers and LCD screens.
Curse you, Goodyear blimps!
Seriously, though; there are other inert gases that could be used, for applications using helium now.