Here are the key events in Science and Disasters news for the month of December 2012.
World Experiences Worst Helium Shortage in Decades (Dec. 19): Helium, second only to hydrogen as the most abundant element in the universe, has become scarce. There have been shortages of helium in years past, like in 1958 when the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons had to be filled with air instead of helium. However, industry experts and physicists say that this year's helium shortage has been one of the worst because it's lasting longer. "The shortage is due to demand exceeding our ability to produce helium. Typically in the past, there's been enough helium in the distribution system that the end consumer never saw the problem. This has been an extended shortage, and all of the helium that's been in the supply chain has been expended," says Sam Burton, assistant field manager for the Bureau of Land Management, which operates a helium reserve in Amarillo, Texas. The reserve in Amarillo produces around 30 percent of the world's helium.
|2012 Current Events|