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Strange English in this article[edit]

Strange English is in this article very early on. Look at the beginning.

"This is due to the very high binding energy (per nucleon) of helium-4 with respect to the next three elements after helium. This helium-4 binding energy also accounts for its commonality as a product in both nuclear fusion and radioactive decay."

"Commonality" is not the right word. Commonality means "the ordinary people, as distinguished from those with authority, rank, station, etc.," according to the RANDOM HOUSE DICTIONARY of 2012.

What you need is "commonness": that which belongs equally to, or is shared alike by, two or more entities in question, according to the RANDOM HOUSE DICTIONARY.
Similar results can be found in other dictionaries. (talk) 04:16, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing this out; I just rephrased it. -- Beland (talk) 16:35, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

The phrase "one of the only" is a common but meaningless one: the correct wording is "one of the few". Francis newman welder (talk) 20:33, 19 October 2013 (UTC)Francis Newman welder

language Use[edit]

Helium II state

Liquid helium below its lambda point begins to exhibit very unusual characteristics, in a state called helium II. Boiling of helium II is not possible due to its high thermal conductivity; heat input instead causes evaporation of the liquid directly to gas.

The correct term for this is Sublimation link not evaporation —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:28, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

This is a little confused. In your second sentence, I would say that evaporation of liquid helium II IS boiling of helium II. And sublimation means direct conversion of a SOLID to gas, at least for most substances which have only one liquid state.

For helium it is true that direct evaporation of liquid helium II without passing through liquid helium I is ANALOGOUS to sublimation of ice (for example) without passing through liquid water. However before describing the HeII --> gas transition as sublimation in a Wiki article, I think we need a reference to a reputable physics paper or website which so describes it. Without a citation, this description would be "original research" which is against Wiki policy - see WP:NOR. Dirac66 (talk) 21:45, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

How is an analogy "original research?" Inaccurate perhaps, but OR?! --Belg4mit (talk) 02:44, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Using a term in a way not used by the scientific community is OR in Wikipedia terms as it is an invention. The OP was not proposing it as an analogy, he/she was proposing it as an actual meaning. SpinningSpark 02:57, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Both "boiling" and "evaporation" are both transitions from liquid to gas. Assuming the terms are the same for a superfluid as a liquid, it is not meaningful to say that Helium II does one but not the other. I think what is meant is that it doesn't bubble, but transitions from the surface layer. I fixed the article to say that. -- Beland (talk) 17:20, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


Although some folk pronounce the element name as HEE-lee-em, as the schwa, "ə", is carelessly used for any short vowel, it is more correctly pronounced 'um' as in 'gum', (HEE-lee-ʌm), consistent with its spelling and etymology.
Wikidity (talk) 16:07, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Professional dictionaries show the schwa. -- Beland (talk) 17:20, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Uber-nice reference[edit]

I stumped onto this document that some of you might want to use to add a bit to the history section. Enjoy! Nergaal (talk) 15:25, 9 July 2008 (UTC)


Is it worth mentioning in the article that helium got its anomalous -ium suffix because Lockyer and Frankland assumed that the new element would be a metal? The irksome thing is that, while I'm utterly sure that this is so, I can't find an unambiguous reference to cite - can any of you do better? Kay Dekker (talk) 23:02, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Are you sure there was a rule to have the suffix "ium" only for metals? There are other counterexamples to this "rule": selenium, germanium, polonium - a non-metal and two metalloids. And current IUPAC rules propose that newly-discovered elements must all end in "ium", whether they're metals or not. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 22:22, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the "ium" suffix only applying to metals, but it is anomalous when applied to a gas. All the noble gases have "on"; there are others ("gen"),, but no other gas has the "ium" suffix. ( (talk) 13:55, 11 July 2011 (UTC))

Correction to Biological Effects[edit]

The explanation of the high pitch you get when you huff helium began by saying something very wrong: that the pitch of the voice is primarily determined by the dimensions of the resonant cavity, not by the stimulating frequency from the vocal folds. You can easily demonstrate how wrong this is by singing and sliding gradually from low pitch to high pitch, all on the same vowel. The resonance chamber from larynx to mouth plus buzz in the skull and sinuses changes only very little, but the pitch changes more than an octave and covers all the pitches between. That means if the cavity were determining pitch, you'd need to be gradually reducing its size for high notes to less than HALF the size for low notes! (For a trained singer with a two-octave range, to less than ONE QUARTER the low-note size.) No. In fact the vocal cavity, like the body of a stringed instrument, is a versatile resonator capable of supporting many frequencies, and what changes is the tension holding the vocal folds together, and the air pressure from below.

The reason the cavity can resonate at many frequencies without changing its dimensions (much) is, it's not like a trombone, which is a simple narrow cylinder, with length much greater than base-radius. The only available path for a sound wave through a trombone is directly from one end to the other, so the pitch is determined by the length, the wavelength of the sound being equal to the length of the cylinder, or an harmonic fraction thereof. In contrast, the voice is better-modelled as a WIDE cylinder, a can, with a pinhole in the center of the bottom, through which vibratory stimulation radiates into the can in all different directions. The path of the resonating wave through the vocal cavity can be direct from entrance to exit, as in a trombone, but it can also be crooked, ricocheting off the walls of the can. This makes many additional baseline resonant frequencies available, plus their harmonics, and the distribution of them--which of the possible vibrations actually occur, and how strongly--is determined primarily by the stimulating vibration, as in a stringed instrument, exactly opposite to what the article said.

Fortunately, I was able to correct this simply by deleting the misinformation, so I have not added any new reference to the article. However, if you want one, here it is: SingingZombie (talk) 10:33, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

There's an argument over whether the pitch changes at all when you breathe helium. To me, it sounds as if it does. Several speech professionals claim it does not, precisely for the reasons you give (it's an oscillator-driven system not a resonator-driven one). Basically, even if you're breathing 80% helium, 20% oxygen, your vocal folds resonate at the same frequency, and all that changes is the timbre (strength of the various higher harmonics), not the fundamental pitch. Right now I'm sort of agnostic on the issue, not having had the time or the helium to do my own experiments. This article has said in the past that helium does and does NOT change the pitch of the voice. And you can find "explanations" that say both things on the net. If you're doing to go with your idea, you have to go whole hog with J. Wolfe's idea that timbre changes but pitch does NOT. See [1] SBHarris 03:23, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Wanna hear something even cooler? The vocal cavity is wide in the larynx up to behind the tongue, where it is narrow, and then it widens again in the mouth-and-sinuses. So it has a peanut-shape (or barbel-shape), just like the body of a guitar or violin! There must be something about the peanut-shape which confers extra resonances.
By the way, I agree with you about the pitch/timbre ambiguity. That's one of the reasons I just deleted the misinfo but did not add new info. SingingZombie (talk) 17:20, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Note that J. Wolfe on the helium-singing article is the same guy on the article you cited. He's a wonk in the field. Wolfe and I had some correspondance in which I essentially said: "well, if the pitch doesn't change, how come everybody thinks it does, and why does it SOUND like it does? To which he essentially replied: "It doesn't sound like it does to ME, and here are the spectral analyses that show that the harmonics are separated by just the same interval on helium, which means that the fundamental (the pitch by definition, even if it's heard as a virtual pitch) is unchanged." So the harmonic power spectum of the voice (particularly amplitude of higher harmonics) is changed by helium, resulting in a major timbre change, but that's it.

We really have to do something about this on the Wikipedia, since if Wolfe is right, the article still remains wrong. Probably this topic deserves its own subarticle, there's so much confusion about it even in the cited literature. I've probably read about 3 different explanation of why helium changes voice pitch, but the biggest academic in the field claims it doesn't change it at all. Go figure. SBHarris 20:15, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

I think the way the article reads now is fine--" increase in the pitch of the resonance frequencies..." Whether it's the overall pitch that changes or only the timbre, the pitches of the individual resonance modes certainly do change. If the pitch doesn't change (as Wolfe says) it's because the relative activities of the resonances also change to maintain the overall pitch, but not the timbre. The pitches of the individual modes--for instance, the shortest mode, straight up from larynx to mouth with no richochets--definitely does change its pitch, according to the change in the speed of sound. SingingZombie (talk) 06:47, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes. A spectral analysis of some spoken words showed the basis tone stays the same under helium, but overtones become higher. People trying to speak with helium often raise there basis tone unconsciously and so distort the effect of helium alone. At the very end of breathing out the helium concentration and the effect is reduced. --Helium4 (talk) 14:52, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
I found a reference [2] so I'm changing the article. -- Beland (talk) 18:02, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Medical Use, Transition Turbulent-Laminar[edit]

Not yet included in the article is what I heard: Helium is used in medical intensive care, if a narrow breathing path makes breathing difficult. Helium has about the same viscosity resistance in comparison to air, as long as laminar flows are compared. Air flow gets - according to higher density and therefore higher Reynolds number Re earlier turbulent than the less dense helium, and turbulent flow makes more resistance than. Re grows relevant high if one breathes gas at the - compared to normal - rather high pressure of the ambiance while diving deep in water, or breathing organs are constricted. See articles and and

An aluminium 2-Groschen coin (Austria, about 1950-2000, lightweight with 0,9 g) rolls out in an upright fixed round latex balloon of about 28 cm diameter for up to 2,75 min if filled with helium, but only 2,25 min if air-filled. This is why - hearable - turbulences brake rather quickly down the speed of the coin to a gas-characteristic transition speed to laminar flow, which is lower for air than for helium. --Helium4 (talk) 15:09, 18 August 2010 (UTC)


The following paragraph in the Helium article is an abomination of nuclear physics and the standard solar model. Therefore, it must be deleted before it does any more harm.

"In a similar way, the particular energetic stability of the helium-4 nucleus, produced by similar effects, accounts for the ease of helium-4 production in atomic reactions involving both heavy-particle emission, and fusion. Some stable helium-3 is produced in fusion reactions from hydrogen, but it is a very small fraction, compared with the highly favorable helium-4. The stability of helium-4 is the reason hydrogen is converted to helium-4 (not deuterium or helium-3 or heavier elements) in the Sun..."

WOW! Not only is helium-3 stable, it is also far more abundant in the sun than helium-4. Additionally, helium-3 is required for every fusion reaction resulting in helium-4, not to mention that deuterium is necessary to make helium-3. The reason that helium-4 is more abundant on Earth is that helium-4's rest mass (added with the rest masses of the other particles that result) is less than the initial system's rest masses. Saying that helium-4's "higher" (are there various degrees of stable? I thought stable meant stable?) stability is why it is favored over helium-3 is like saying carbon-12's (another isotope made in solar processes) stability is why it's favored over helium-4... yeah...RIDICULOUS!

The worst part is, this disgusting edit has been around for almost a YEAR without anybody changing it. FOR SHAME!

Mrkbh12 (talk) 00:07, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Can you support the assertion that 3He is more abundant than 4He in the Sun? It is my understanding that (1) the abundance of 3He in the Universe has been quite constant since the first few minutes following the Big Bang, (2) 3He is less than 1/1000 as abundant as 4He in the Universe[[3]], and also in the solar wind[[4]], and (3) 3He is probably not a significant participant in solar reactions[[5]]. I believe the concentration in the solar wind approximates that on at least the surface of the Sun. I may have missed something.

Fnj2 (talk) 06:36, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Low 3He abundance is supported by [6]. However, Mrkbh12 is not asserting that 3He is abundant, only that the description of the mechanism is inaccurate. These claims are unreferenced, so I will mark them as dubious. -- Beland (talk) 18:02, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

The mechanisms change with temperature, but in our Sun the dominant one is the proton–proton chain reaction (please read) for which Hans Bethe won the Nobel Prize in 1967 (this is the low temp fusion below about 15 million K-- the CNO cycle is dominant at higher temperatures and larger stars). One of Bethe's insights is that at the comparitively low temperatures and core densities of our Sun, proton-proton fusion (which is all you have to run on) is incredibly slow-- protons have a half life of a billion years before being fused to deuterium. If it were otherwise the Sun would have gone supernova, or at least gone red giant-->white dwarf, long ago. The process is so rare and difficult that I don't even know if it's been seen experimentally even yet (all lab and bomb fusion is done with deuterium or tritium, or other likely elements, but never, never, ever protium).

Once deuterium is made in our Sun, it has a half life of 4 seconds before fusing with a proton to give He-3. Which is why there's essentially none of it in the core of the Sun, even though one deuterium must be made for every He-4. And this is also the reason why essentially all the deuterium in the universe comes from the Big Bang, not from any type of stellar process (or cosmic rays, either-- deuterium is just too loosely bound to stand up to any energetic post Big Bang processes).

Once you have helium-3 that doesn't last long either, which is why (again) most of the helium-3 in the universe (though not quite all) is from the Big Bang, also. The most likely step from there is He-3 fusing with itself to give He-4 and two protons. He-3 has a half life of just 400 years in the core of our star, which is why there's so little there (it doesn't matter if you must make one He-3 for every He-4; the He-4 lasts forever and the He-3 lasts a 10-millionth of the duration of our Sun so far from its beginning). Most of the He-4 in our Sun is from the Big Bang also-- it hasn't been around long enough to enrich this by more than about half. But the primordial He-3 ratio to He-4 from the Big Bang is 1 to 10,000 and that's what our star started with (and about what it still has, since He-3 is burned so fast). This is far, far more He-3 than you get from p-p fusion. Even if you started with no He-4 from the Big Bang, it only takes 200 x 10,000 years = 2 million years after a star like our Sun turns on, to make as much He-4 as it contains He-3, and after that the He-4 just keeps building up (where would it go?), and the He-3 does not, because it is burned in various ways to He-4 (see a list in the proton–proton chain reaction article). Our Sun only makes trivial amounts of C-12, which is the only thing He-4 can fuse into. In the far future when our Sun passes through the red giant phase and starts to burn He-4 at far higher temperatures, that will change, but right now, He-4 from fusion is just building up as "ash", and little is happening to it.

The billion year half life for H-1, and the 4 second half life for D, and the 400 year half life for He-3 in our Sun are given in James Byrne's text Neutrons, Nuclei, and Matter p. 8 (2011, Dover edition) Philadelphia (ISBN-13: 978-0-486-48238-5). They are also pretty standard in any astronomical book on stellar synthesis. He-3 and D (aka H-2) are both very vulnerable to fusion processes, whereas H-1 and He-4 are far less, and therefore they end up the majority players, even after billions of years. A minority of He-3 in our own Sun is burned straight to He-4 by proton capture--> positive beta decay, also illustrating how vulnerable He-3 is to fusing to He-4, where things (again) stick because the temp is too cool to make carbon. The basic reason for all of these reactions is the amount of binding energy per nucleon in the He-4 nucleus, vs. He-3 and D (that is "stability"). Is somebody really arguing against this? I'm discounting the editor above who thinks the Sun has more He-3 than He-4; that's just so far out of reality that I assume it's coming from somebody who knows nothing at all in this area, and is spouting off (he didn't look at the nuclide stability chart in the next section, either). For you experts out there, feel free to tell me why the other very simple view of things (H-1 fuses to He-4 in our star, with little intermediate and even less further progression afterward) is not the correct view. SBHarris 23:34, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Heat capacity: Constant volume or pressure[edit]

Why is it that hardly anybody cares to specify if a listed value for the heat capacity of a gas is measured under constant volume or constant pressure? The numbers are significantly different, and lead to very wrong results if one condition is implicitly assumed while the figure in fact was measured under the other. Since He is very close to an ideal gas it is fairly easy to confirm that the listed number in the article is for constant pressure, I will change the article to specify that. In many other articles the given numbers are useless! WikiPidi (talk) 14:32, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Hmm, seems it's not that easy, as nested templates are used. I've brought the issue up on the Template:Infobox_element talk page WikiPidi (talk) 15:51, 8 November 2010 (UTC)
This particular heat capacity of 20.786 J/mole/K is exactly 2.5000 R (to 5 sig digits!), so obviously it's constant pressure heat capacity for a monatomic gas. Furthermore, exactly the same figure is given for the the other 4 noble gases Ne,Ar,Kr,Xe. This is fishy, as real substances rarely show the same heat capacity to 5 sig digits, even when it is the correct one. Even fishier still, radon is also listed as having the same heat capacity of 20.786 J/mole/K, which means this is certainly a calculated not a measured value, since nobody has collected enough radon to measure its heat capacity to that value (radon itself produces so much heat from its own decay that this would be a difficult and perilous measurement to even get an estimate for). SO at this point I have to say is TILT. Calculated values from theory should be marked so. SBHarris 17:29, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Molar Heat Capacity 5R/2 Wrong ?[edit]

As I'm only reading up on this right now (learning), not sure if I'm correct but the Physical Properties side panel shows the Molar Heat Capacity as 5R/2 whereas this Wiki page (Half way down at the heading "The simple case of the monatomic gas" states it should be 3R/2 for all monatomic gases ???? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:29, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

See this thread. Materialscientist (talk) 23:39, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Aha ... Thx ... back to learning then :-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:40, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Use in suicides[edit]

I just came across Austin, A.; Winskog, C.; Van Den Heuvel, C.; Byard, R. W. (2011). "Recent Trends in Suicides Utilizing Helium". Journal of Forensic Sciences 56 (3): 649–651. doi:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01723.x. PMID 21361949.  which discusses how helium is increasingly being used in suicides in Australia and similar data has come out from the UK (not anywhere near an RS, but the data is from an RS). Should we include this? SmartSE (talk) 18:31, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps. More material on helium's use in this fashion is already quoted in the wiki on suicide bag. The mechanism is discussed at controlled atmosphere killing and nitrogen asphyxiation, which is mostly about capital punishment where nitrogen (nor helium) has ever been used, and which I'm trying to get renamed to inert gas asphyxiation, with subarticles or subsections on different inert gases and homicide vs. suicide. I could use some help on this from editors here, as the nitrogen asphyxiation article seems to be WP:OWNed by one or two editors who are resistant to making any changes in it.

Helium is particularly suitable for inert gas asphyxiation suicide, since it collects at the top of do-it-yourself apparatuses, forming a layer around the head. Otherwise, it's not much different from equally affordable argon or nitrogen. SBHarris 19:53, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

    • 42 died in Britain last year due to helium!. The Guardian doesn't explain why... but perhaps it's due to suicides. Either way, it should be covered here in depth. The current article suggests there are few safety issues.Malick78 (talk) 12:07, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Wrong history[edit]

Now we have it: Nature's Building Blocks: Everything You Need to Know About the Elements 2011 gives us the "real" history of Lockyear in Vijaydurg India in 1868. This contradicting his (Lockyers) own description of the events. So do not quote this 2011 version of John Emsley for the discovery of helium, he is wrong.--Stone (talk) 07:25, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Nature's Building Blocks: Everything You Need to Know About the Elements 2003 So do not quote this 2003 version of John Emsley for the discovery of helium, in which he is wrong right.--Stone (talk) 08:30, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
What? You mean Lockyear's own account is wrong (which wouldn't be the first time that first-person historical accounts are inflated), but Emsley's historical account, based on many sources, is correct? So we SHOULD quote Emsley? SBHarris 19:45, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I meant the second Emsley is right from 2003. The newest version of Emsley is wrong and is contradicting the written report of Lockyer from 1868. So lets stick to the old and right version.--Stone (talk) 06:04, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I didn't notice the different dates at the end of the two Emsley links. I've taken the liberty of adding them in bold to your comments above. If that's not okay with you, of course remove them. SBHarris 18:34, 16 May 2012 (UTC)
I will try to contact Emsley, I only found his phone number and no mail so I try to call him.--Stone (talk) 11:53, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
I am in contact with Emsley and we try to figure out the story will having a look into the available documents.--Stone (talk) 21:03, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Upper-atmospheric harvesting of helium?[edit]

Gases tend to naturally sort themselves by molecular weight, and all of our "lost" helium hasn't actually left the planet. It's just way up in the sky in a hard to access location.

Would it ever be economically feasible to harvest helium from the upper atmosphere, compress and liquify it, and send a container of liquid helium back down to the Earth?

If the concept of a space elevator ever gets off the ground, it could be used as a helium transport method.

DMahalko (talk) 23:19, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Do you really think that if you leave a bottle of vodka on the shelf long enough, that the alcohol in it will rise to the top, like cream on whole milk just out of the cow? Sorry, my friend, but nature doesn't work that way. Liquid separation only works when intermolecular forces allow aggregates to form that are large enough that the bouyancy forces on them are large enough compared with the mixing caused by thermal impacts (Brownian motion on this scale). But in a microemulsion separation never happens. Nor does it happen in gases. Oxygen is heavier than nitrogen, but the composition of the atmosphere at sea level is the same as on the top of Mr. Everest. Helium does NOT selectively drift up to the top of the atmosphere. It mixes uniformly, as does the neon that has always been in it. SBHarris 21:25, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Sbharris is incorrect; helium is indeed in greater abundance in the upper atmosphere; see Heterosphere#Other_layers for an explanation. However, DMahalko is also incorrect; all atmospheric gases are lost to space (see Atmospheric escape), and helium disproportionately so. Whether or not it's feasible to extract helium from the upper atmosphere is an economic question. Currently it seems much easier to simply harvest it from natural gas fields or the lower atmosphere. And speculating about the future is not really the job of an encyclopedia. -- Beland (talk) 18:29, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Safety in Helium Use[edit]

I would appreciate it if the data in this section could be updated to the current time. In February 2012 a 14-year-old girl died as a result of inhaling helium at a party (Source: Associated Press 2-23-12; reported also on and on September 23 2012 a 12-year-old girl inhaled helium from a balloon she found in a tree, became unconscious and fell out of the tree, then experienced a seizure from hypoxia requiring emergency medical attention (Source: Sherman Publications, Inc., The Oxford Leader newspaper 12-3-12). This would mean that there have been at least two additional incidents of serious medical effects (one fatal) from inhaling helium by young adolescents within a one year span in the U.S. which have reached the press, which is a much higher incidence rate and a significant increase from two incidents spread over several years and two different countries, as the article currently indicates.

As a drug & alcohol counselor working in a High School & Middle School, I have first-hand knowledge of the frequency of this behavior and I teach the students about the seriousness of it. It would be helpful if the Wiki article more accurately represented the danger of this practice with the most current facts. Kwalshpio (talkcontribs) 13:30, 30 May 2013 (UTC)Karen Walsh Pio, LICSW, LADC I

I added mention of the two incidents, though this article is now suffering from Wikipedia:Recentism. Doing a historical chart as far back as data is available would be more balanced in that respect. The article already explains why inhalation of either kind is dangerous, kids. -- Beland (talk) 18:54, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
The first case was inhaling high pressure gas from a pressurized tank. It has really nothing to do with helium, but is a high pressure lung injury causing gas embolism. The second injury is rather odd, also. If you breathe any gas without oxygen you can lose consciousness; it's an asphyxiant gas problem. If you're up in tree, that's a danger if you lose consciousness. If you're up in a tree and you merely breathe into a plastic bag until you lose consciousness and fall out on your head, what can we blame? Not helium-- this is lack of oxygen. If you climb a tree with a friend and one of you chokes the other until he loses consciousness and falls out onto his head, what is the behavior resulting in the injury? Choking? Strangulation? Hypoxia? Stupidity? If you're up in a tree and you get drunk enough to fall on your head, should be put that in the alcoholism wiki? Is it even specific enough? Suppose you take off in your hang glider and put a plastic bag on your head (no helium-- just the bag) and then deliriously fly into the ground, what then? So you see my point, yet? SBHarris 23:24, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
I get you general point but you're actually taking it way too far (enjoyment of intellectual extreme point). Inhaling helium from a balloon is helium-specific because helium balloons are a common play item and because the voice changes are a popular party trick. So it means some kind of mention in this direction might be appropriate. (talk) 11:48, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

I updated it and added a 1998 case. The Northaptonshire pins (talk) 00:07, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Edit request on 12 September 2013[edit]

Here I come, I want to help the wikipedia to see what happened and if something gone wrong,we can delte thewrong thing and put the correct back :D Augustin barna (talk) 16:29, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Not done: please be more specific about what needs to be changed. If you do not want to list the changes needed here, you may wait until your account is autoconfirmed, which means you have been a registered user for more than four days and have made more than 10 edits. At this point, you will be allowed to edit the article yourself. Dana boomer (talk) 20:21, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Helium, escape velocity?[edit]

The article says "Helium is a finite resource and is one of the only elements with escape velocity, meaning that once released into the atmosphere, it escapes into space.[3][4][5"

I have two problems with this, firstly "is one of the only elements with escape velocity" is vague. Perhaps the other is hydrogen? In which case it needs to say "is one of only two..."#

Secondly, does it really reach escape velocity? Given that it is less dense than air it will rise to the upper atmosphere without needing to reach escape velocity (just as a high flying balloon does not need to reach escape velocity to reach its equilibrium point). Once in the high atmosphere it may then be irradiated or stripped away by the solar wind. The reference to escape velocity needs to be checked and if it is correct an explanation is needed, otherwise it should be removed. (talk) 09:48, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes, the main other is H2. See atmospheric escape for a more detailed look at the mechanisms. H2 and He seem to be the main two atmospheric gases that Earth cannot hold on to gravitationally. Technically all gases can escape from Earth's atmosphere, but H2 and He do so disproportionately, probably due to their light weight. Nevertheless they still occur in Earth's atmosphere, just at such low concentrations that it's not worth using it as a source for now – particularly when there are much more plentiful resources of these gases (water and alpha decay of heavy elements, respectively). But you are right that He will rise to the upper atmosphere if it doesn't reach escape velocity. If our He supplies run out, space elevators may be another feasible way to extract He from regions in the atmosphere where it is more concentrated – as I see another user has suggested earlier on this talk page. Double sharp (talk) 11:25, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Once the light elements, H2 and He reach the uppermost layer of the atmosphere, solar wind provides the additional impulse to give it escape velocity and leave the planet forever.Wzrd1 (talk) 13:55, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
But none of these forces (buoyancy or solar wind) driving hydrogen or helium out of the atmosphere are dependent upon escape velocity (or escape speed as it should be termed) because these are not ballistic trajectories. The solar wind can apply a constant force to push a particle without the need for escape velocity. Consider a man climbing an infinite ladder, he does not need to reach escape velocity to escape the earth, but he would if he was fired from a canon. (talk) 15:27, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
You neglect ionization effects from solar radiation, magnetic fields accelerating the now ionized particles. Those further accelerate the lightest elements to full escape velocity, especially when the solar magnetic flux is adding to capture from Earth orbit.Wzrd1 (talk) 16:55, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Definition of Grade A[edit]

By 1949, commercial quantities of Grade A 99.95% helium were available.[34] usually resulting in 99.995% pure Grade-A helium. [8]

There appears to be an error in the first number based on a quick search of other (modern) sources or it could be that the standard for Grade A has changed over the years

Either way this article could be enhanced by getting these numbers corrected or explaining the reason for the difference. (talk) 17:17, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. --Stfg (talk) 18:58, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Helium is also used as filling gas in CANDU nuclear fuel elements. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:40, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Health Hazards[edit]

The cited references are very bad, there are much better ones which are pier reviewed and better than Lou's Balloons.. Lets change it!

--Stone (talk) 18:36, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

I've done my best to tidy up the incoherent structure and grammar of the section. I must question, however, the encyclopedic value of a long catalogue of deaths caused by helium. Frankly I don't think that every incident needs to be mentioned because of WP:WEIGHT and a simple summary would be far more appropriate in my opinion. I am also troubled by the fact that the first reference I checked (,0,6589649.story) showed that the teenager died from asphyxiation, while the article mistakenly stated it as barotrauma. I've since corrected that but it leads me to suspect all the other references. I'd appreciate it if someone had time to cast an eye over the section and give a third opinion on the suitability of the content for a featured article. The references need to be brought into line with the others in the FA, but I don't want to expend energy on that if others agree that the section has been unduly inflated and needs to be cut back. --RexxS (talk) 00:05, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
I think we should condense the whole thing down to what it really is: It is the en vogue way to commit suicide advertised in the net and by books and therefore the number of dead people fund in bags full of helium is increasing. The "Tod in Tüten" article exactly says this and we can quote it. May be we should use a more encyclopedic way to write it ;-) --15:01, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
I would hate to ascribe a tragic loss of life by accidental asphyxiation to suicide, when often all we have to go on is yellow journalism. Following the comments here and WhatamIdoing's advice at WT:WikiProject Medicine #Helium, I'm going to suggest that we cut back the hazards section to a paragraph each on: inhalation; cryogenic helium; and high-pressure nervous syndrome:

Excessive inhalation of helium can be dangerous, since helium is a simple asphyxiant and so displaces oxygen needed for normal respiration.[1] Breathing pure helium continuously causes death by asphyxiation within minutes. This fact is utilized in the design of suicide bags. Inhaling helium directly from pressurized cylinders is extremely dangerous, as the high flow rate can result in barotrauma, fatally rupturing lung tissue. Death caused by helium is nevertheless rare.[2] Since 1998 no more than one or two fatalities have been reported each year.

The safety issues for cryogenic helium are similar to those of liquid nitrogen; its extremely low temperatures can result in cold burns and the liquid-to-gas expansion ratio can cause explosions if no pressure-relief devices are installed. Containers of helium gas at 5 to 10 K should be handled as if they contain liquid helium due to the rapid and significant thermal expansion that occurs when helium gas at less than 10 K is warmed to room temperature.[3]

At pressures greater than about 20 standard atmospheres (2,000 kPa), a mixture of helium and oxygen (heliox) can lead to high-pressure nervous syndrome, a sort of reverse-anesthetic effect. Adding nitrogen or hydrogen to the mixture can delay the onset of the problem.[4]


  1. ^ Emsley, John (2001). Nature's Building Blocks. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 175–179. ISBN 0-19-850341-5. 
  2. ^ Engber, Daniel (13 June 2006). "Stay Out of That Balloon!". Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  3. ^ Lide, D. R., ed. (2005). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (86th ed.). Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-0486-5. 
  4. ^ Hunger Jr, W. L.; Bennett., P. B. (1974). "The causes, mechanisms and prevention of the high-pressure nervous syndrome". Undersea Biomed. Res. 1 (1): 1–28. OCLC 2068005. PMID 4619860. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
It can be argued that the observation on rate of fatalities is WP:OR. I'd have no objection to cutting that if others felt strongly. I'm not sure if the suicide bags comment needs an independent reference; the relevant article has multiple citations that could be used. If different references were wanted, I'd recommend the best of the sources that I've cut out:
* Josefson, D (2000). "Imitating Mickey Mouse can be dangerous". BMJ : British Medical Journal 320 (7237): 732. PMC 1117755. 
Any other thoughts? --RexxS (talk) 22:13, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
I think that's a significant improvement. I think it would be better to say that no more than a couple of accidental fatalities are reported each year. Deliberate suicides presumably don't get reported the same way or at all (don't media guidelines discourage reporting the suicide method?). WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:53, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 20 March 2014[edit]

Under Hazards, 'temporally' should be changed to 'temporarily' because 'temporally' is not a word. (talk) 01:27, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Fixed, thanks. Materialscientist (talk) 01:35, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Temporally is a word. (talk) 11:27, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Misinterpreted source[edit]

On the page it reads

> It is estimated that the resource base for yet-unproven helium in natural gas in the U.S. is 31–53 trillion SCM, about 1000 times the proven reserves.

The source can be found at and it reads

> It is estimated that the total U.S. potential resource base of natural gas is an additional 1,100 to 1,900 trillion scf (31 to 53 trillion scm) over the proved reserve base (as of December 31, 1993).

The original text does not refer to "helium in natural gas" but simply natural gas (of which helium would represent perhaps 0-2 %, however the source does not hint anything about the potential helium content). I've not done any edits because I'm not registered. (talk) 11:48, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. I have removed that estimate of unproven reserves as speculative - the natural gas reserves are rather different here and in the Committee on the Impact of Selling source, and the helium content in it is uncertain. Materialscientist (talk) 12:26, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Link to Superfluid helium-4[edit]

Shouldn't there be a link to the extensive wiki article on superfluid helium-4 somewhere in this page. Maybe as a "See also" in the section on Helium II. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dborrero (talkcontribs) 16:53, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Done. This more-detailed and much longer article is now the "main" reference article of the helium-II section. SBHarris 23:20, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Spamming of unreliable sources[edit]

I've already reverted once the huge number of junk sources like,,, and another 100 more that have been added by The Northaptonshire pins, but they have been simply replaced once more. I refuse to edit war over this, but other editors are now needed to clean up this featured article from the mess that's been made. --RexxS (talk) 00:05, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Reverted. Double sharp (talk) 09:18, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

He melting point is wrong[edit]

I am not sure where the value of 0.95 K at 2.5 MPa comes from but this is wrong. First, the melting point is normally associated with atmospheric pressure. In the case of helium at absolute zero and atmospheric pressure it is still a liquid, due to the zero point energy. Therefore a standard melting point is not defined. Furthermore, as I'm sure will be pointed out, the melting point is defined here at a pressure of 2.5 MPa. While this is correct, the melting point at 2.5 MPa occurs when the temperature is zero Kelvin and not 0.95K. This can be supported with this paperand here. The 0.95 K temperature makes little sense if you consider the phase diagram. i.e. what happens between 0.95 K at 2.5 MPa and 0 k and 1 atmosphere. I'm not sure where this 0.95 K figure originates but it is erroneous and should be removed as it is becoming ubiquitous due to the Wikipedia effect and I can find no supporting evidence of this value anywhere in the scientific literature. --ElectricDoctor (talk) 16:35, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

The 0.95 K figure is quoted at Melting points of the elements (data page) as being from Lange's Handbook of Chemistry (15th edition). However, given what you point out, we probably ought to change it. Double sharp (talk) 16:12, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 30 December 2014[edit]

Isotopes Main article: Isotopes of helium There are eight known isotopes of helium

Please change eight known isotopes to nine known isotpoes See Main article: Isotopes of helium for confirmation

Submitted by Al Stokes,; tel # 201-203-9634 Stokesal (talk) 00:43, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done: [7]. G S Palmer (talkcontribs) 01:21, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Why not imperial units?[edit]

Why do we not at least *include* imperial measurements (feet and inches) here, since this is the American English version of Wikipedia? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:22, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

My opinion is: in science, SI is the universal unit set. Noonew in science uses ft,in-derived units. I am open to other proposals. btw, temperatures are in C, F, and K. -DePiep (talk) 22:41, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In response to Actually it's the English language version of Wikipedia. We try to accommodate editors from USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and everywhere where English is spoken (sorry if I've missed any). As a result we do provide conversions between SI and Imperial wherever practical, and we even have a template {{convert}} to do the job automatically. In the infobox you'll see temperatures in Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit, but are there any other places that you'd specifically like to see unit conversions? I should say that there are some places where Imperial units just wouldn't be appropriate - for example, I doubt that "a wavelength of 587.49 nanometers" would ever be quoted as "a wavelength of 587.49 nanometers (0.0002313 inches)" because scientific work is conducted almost exclusively using SI units. --RexxS (talk) 23:00, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 March 2015[edit]

In the application section, under scientific uses, change this paragraph:

"Helium at low temperatures is used in cryogenics, and in certain cryogenics applications. As examples of applications, liquid helium is used to cool certain metals to the extremely low temperatures required for superconductivity, such as in superconducting magnets for magnetic resonance imaging. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN uses 96 metric tons of liquid helium to maintain the temperature at 1.9 kelvin"


"Liquid helium at low temperatures is used in Helium cryogenics. As examples of applications, liquid helium is used to cool certain metals to the extremely low temperatures required for superconductivity, such as in superconducting magnets for magnetic resonance imaging. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN uses 96 metric tons of liquid helium to maintain the temperature at 1.9 kelvin"

Rileyfricke (talk) 03:44, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Ive left the phrase cryogenics as it was put it now links to Helium cryogenics. Amortias (T)(C) 19:54, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Changes to lead[edit]

I've just reverted a series of five edits to the lead as I don't believe they improve the article - and in fact make it worse. The edits chopped up the flowing prose of the first paragraph into short, disconnected sentences. It also introduced irrelevances such as "one of the naturally occurring atoms in the universe" - which is waffle; and pointing out that a nucleus with atomic number of two contains two protons. The lead of this article is not the place to make those sort of explanations. The same applies to the attempt to explain what a noble gas is. The changes also removed the information that helium is the second lightest element and removed the distinction of observable universe, making the statement not only less precise, but unverifiable. Finally, this is a Featured Article and has sufficient lead content to justify five paragraphs. There is no need to take WP:LEAD's guidance of "it should ideally contain no more than four well-composed paragraphs" as representing an absolute limit.

If there is anything of the edits that is worth saving, then more opinions ought to be sought here. --RexxS (talk) 12:51, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Changes to the process of nuclear fusion.[edit]

I'd like to clarify that helium is used by stars during nuclear fusion as fuel or gas to then be converted into Carbon matter. TekIonRLP (talk) 01:36, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Why do you want to single out carbon? Nucleosynthesis yields the other elements as well. And why do you keep removing, or contradicting, the statement that helium is generated from hydrogen within stars? ChemNerd (talk) 01:46, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Because helium is the energy component for directly creating Carbon. It's crucial. But I don't believe the hydrogen creates it. TekIonRLP (talk) 02:29, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

The results of the gamma ray create remnants which then expelled helium. TekIonRLP (talk) 02:33, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Also expelled the hydrogen. TekIonRLP (talk) 02:34, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

From the pool of positron's and electronons that clashed to create that supernova. TekIonRLP (talk) 02:34, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Electrons* TekIonRLP (talk) 02:35, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

It had to have been another moment in space where a large enough cloud of Electrons met a large cloud of positrons or alpha particles and reacted into a supernova. The gamma ray released the helium and hydrogen along with a few things berylium, etc and using the helium as fuel it began to form itself with a Carbon surface. Using more helium to create more Carbon. TekIonRLP (talk) 02:39, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Gamma rays thar occur from those clouds transform the resulting cloud into a Higgs boson based cloud. TekIonRLP (talk) 02:40, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

The rest of the new larger cloud is composed of fermions. TekIonRLP (talk) 03:02, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Those fermions eventually become part of the cloud and accepted once the gamma decay reaches the correct phase. Creating a complete boson. TekIonRLP (talk) 03:06, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Then "Helium is a finite resource, and once released into the atmosphere, it readily escapes into space.[5][6][7]" yes because the sun will devour it. That would be contradictory to your statement to say the sun is creating helium. It is instead, using all the helium. TekIonRLP (talk) 03:13, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

What. Double sharp (talk) 13:34, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
I'll just say, TekIonRLP, that you should be aware of WP:OR and should not attempt to add such content to Wikipedia articles. ChemNerd (talk) 15:00, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Sorry about that guys, I was not intending to change the article incorrectly, I thought I was correct but I took your resistance into consideration and read about the solar core and yes it converts hydrogen into helium using the proton-proton chain reaction, however only in suns the size of ours or smaller. You guys happen to know how it forms in suns larger than ours? TekIonRLP (talk) 16:05, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

In the CNO cycle. Double sharp (talk) 07:40, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

Separate article for Helium shortage?[edit]

Perhaps helium shortage deserves to be its own article? It is a temporal issue separate from the timeless nature of the element itself. It has been in scientific news for some time. Tayste (edits) 01:39, 9 February 2016 (UTC)