Helium-filled hard drives increase density, lower power

To quote UK rapper Scroobius Pip, "helium is the second-lightest gas that there is, so we use it in balloons we give to little kids." Now, the Hitachi storage division acquired by Western Digital is using helium in hard drives. The folks at Hitachi have been working on sealing helium inside drives for six years, and the technology is finally ready for prime time. A drive is being demoed today at a WD investor’s event, and actual products are expected to begin qualification next year.

Helium has one seventh the density of the air typically found inside hard drives. That’s not enough of a difference to allow helium-filled notebook drives to lighten the load for notebooks. However, the gas offers much less resistance to spinning platters, which means less work for the drive motor. Helium-filled drives are claimed to consume 23% less power than conventional designs.

According to the press release, helium also reduces the fluid-flow forces between the platters and drive arms, allowing them to be placed even closer together. Hitachi’s current offerings stack up to five plattters in a single enclosure, but helium-filled models should accommodate as many as seven platters in the same space. More platters means more gigabytes, which is part of the reason the technology is being targeted at storage-hungry corporate datacenters.

With superior thermal transfer properties to air, helium should allow drives to run cooler than traditional models. Lower shear forces purportedly reduce noise levels, but there’s no word on whether the gas makes seek noise sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. It will be interesting to see if helium makes its way into consumer-grade HDDs. WD certainly has a lot of those, and its external storage products seem particularly ripe for higher-density drives with low power consumption and quieter acoustics.

Comments closed
    • provoko
    • 7 years ago

    SIX YEARS?!?!?!?!?! No thanks.

    Will these hard drives advertise that they user helium?

    • Theolendras
    • 7 years ago

    I think it should help prevent corrosion as well, which lead to data corruption sometimes…

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    I thought that Earth Helium resources will be depleted within a few decades…..why are various industries still trying to use it, instead of keeping it for the most critical applications that don’t have currently any substitutes?

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 7 years ago

      Helium is a byproduct of oil and particularly natural gas production. A lot of it is simply flared because there’s not enough market and no more room to store it. It floats up through the atmosphere and is eventually lost into space.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    doesnt helium make you lol? reading this, I sure did. just wondering how they will contain it as normal hdd’s aren’t completely sealed (I use the platters of dead drives as coasters).

      • Arclight
      • 7 years ago

      [quote=”albundy”<]doesnt helium make you lol?[/quote<] That would be Nitrous Oxide (NO2) if the question was genuine and not rethorical.

      • bcronce
      • 7 years ago

      Helium makes you dizzy as it displaces oxygen in your blood.

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 7 years ago

    For the heading, I think you meant “reduce” power.

    /anal retentive

    • Saber Cherry
    • 7 years ago

    Baloney. I filled my hard drive with helium, and after careful measurements, the density had decreased.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    We had an extensive discussion about such things in the forums roughly a year ago and I was told that they don’t use a vacuum because of differing air pressures in different zones, essentially causing the drive to bulge or shrink which would be terrible for a hard drive. Helium would have the same issue as the case would have to be sealed.

    Of course you could use a sturdier case to prevent this, which in turn can be manufactured to a certain threshold (to which they make drives to anyway).

    But then why even use a gas at all? At the time so heads can do there thing, which is use air resistance to hover above the platter without touching it. I still think it’s possible to have multiple stationary heads that span the disk, making it almost like a SSD.

    Sadly the thread devolved into the line of reasoning that if it could’ve been done, they would’ve done it already and they’ve thought of everything already. I’m sure this would’ve somehow been covered by that blanket explanation. Hypotheticals are pretty cool when people have tolerance for them.

    [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=78552[/url<] Kudos to Hitachi for keeping a open mind.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    This is fine and dandy, but can I those pre-flood priced drives back first? Who wouldn’t want a 5TB+ drive if they could afford it. Imagine how high this drive could be priced if there was another flood!

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      I would only want a 5TB+ drive only if they were cheap enough to mirror. Loosing 5 TB of data on a drive failure is a tough pill to swallow.

      • DragonDaddyBear
      • 7 years ago

      The point I was trying to make is what good is 5TB if it will be priced higher than the 3TB drives are today? 5TB of data was relitively inexpensive before the flood. What bothers me is the prices haven’t come down and they will release a new, expensive technology in a market they keep inflated.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    So would it make the whine higher pitched when the bearings start to go, like it does with my voice?

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    Just curious:

    Is this something that people think is worthy of patent protection?

      • tfp
      • 7 years ago

      Yes

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      No, or Apple would already have the patent. (heck, they might still claim to have the patent through the Macbook Air)

      • Geistbar
      • 7 years ago

      Patents aren’t supposed to be able to cover basic ideas or discoveries, but methods to do so. Theoretically, they should be able to patent a system to replace the air with helium, but not the idea of placing helium in the drive.

      Now, patent offices are so overloaded these days that lots of things that shouldn’t be patented are approved anyway, so who knows how it will work in practice.

    • Voldenuit
    • 7 years ago

    As others have said, helium will leak out of nearly any container over time (though it’s not *quite* as bad as hydrogen).

    Maybe this is a ploy by hard drive companies to have all drives fail within 3-5 years (incidentally, outside of the warranty period) so users have to buy new drives? :p

      • AlvinTheNerd
      • 7 years ago

      Helium is a monoatomic gas. The Houdini gas, there is no better. Hydrogren is a diatomic gas whose molecule is larger than a single helium atom and thus slightly easier to contain. Aluminum is a physically large atom (hense its low density) and is going to allow helium to get out in time.

      A good company will test and verify that it is operational at atmospheric pressures and at higher pressures, manufacture the drive at higher pressures, and verify that leakage is low enough to not be an issue for ~10 years (make sure second standard deviation is still outside warranty).

      It is still an additional failure mode for a harddrive, but you shouldn’t trust data to a drive that is outside warranty in any case.

        • Voldenuit
        • 7 years ago

        Actually, helium has a [url=http://chemistry.wikia.com/wiki/Helium#Gas_and_plasma_phases<][b<]slower[/b<] diffusion rate through solids than hydrogen[/url<]. And on top of that, hydrogen does nasty things to metallic vessels, like hydrogen embrittlement.

          • DPete27
          • 7 years ago

          All I’m going to say is that It’d better work without the helium in there.

      • Wirko
      • 7 years ago

      What if the drives are programmed to become slower over time? No one would notice, tech sites don’t benchmark used parts, and every user could swear that his computer has become much slower since it was new, whether it’s true or not.

    • glacius555
    • 7 years ago

    First hint at what Magic Smoke may have in its composition? 😛

    • designerfx
    • 7 years ago

    we already have issues with helium supply diminishing, now we’re going to try to make it worse?

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      No, it’s not. That’s sensationalist bullshit. It’s slowing, to be sure, but the culprit of helium diminishment isn’t hard drives — it’s party balloons. I’d rather a small amount of helium be in a hard drive, making it better, than in a party balloon.

        • designerfx
        • 7 years ago

        Party balloons are one of many causes.

        However, don’t act like hard drives would be a small part if they are mass produced.

        That’s like saying “the rare metals we use in our phones are negligible because it’s such a tiny amount” And ignore the reality of : we’re running out of tons of rare earth metals, too.

      • blastdoor
      • 7 years ago

      Seems like a far better use than party balloons.

      • Kharnellius
      • 7 years ago

      Nah, we’re good. The amount in current stash is getting low but it is easily accessible available. The industry will increase harvesting as the need rises.

      [url<]http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/09/helium-filled-hard-disks-will-lead-to-higher-capacities/[/url<] Read the highlighted comments at the bottom.

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    This is interesting, I’ve always understood that HDDs need to breathe so that changes in elevation don’t kill them (over time). I wonder how these drives will handle life in a place like Dever or in an unpressurized aircraft…

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Breath[b<][i<][u<]e[/u<][/i<][/b<] is the verb you're looking for.

        • drfish
        • 7 years ago

        Thank you kindly.

    • Bauxite
    • 7 years ago

    How will they handle the slow and steady leak? A refill port?

    Helium gas molecules are incredibly small, and they slowly make their way out of just about any container, even metal and even at ~1 ATM.

      • tootercomputer
      • 7 years ago

      I wondered the same thing. So if the drives are speced to run in a helium environment, what happens when the helium leaks out? Or even if there is a partial loss of helium. How long can the hdd case keep the helium contained? And for how long will this be important the steady growth of SSDs, at least for consumers and non-servers?

      Nevertheless, a very interesting story. Helium. I miss the days when my son was younger and we had birthday parties and it gave me an excuse to suck helium and talk in that high voice. That was always fun. 🙂

      • ClickClick5
      • 7 years ago

      This is why it has been in testing for six years.

      We dont know yet, but they do. Which means we will soon too.

    • Delphis
    • 7 years ago

    How to tell if the drives in the datacenter are failing; the techs all have high-pitched squeaky voices.

      • XDravond
      • 7 years ago

      The same as I was thinking when reading the headline…

      New phrase when home at a computer geek “hi you sounds like your hard drives are broken” 🙂

      • Voldenuit
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]How to tell if the drives in the datacenter are failing; the techs all have high-pitched squeaky voices.[/quote<] Ironically, one of the industrial applications for helium is to find leaks.

    • Shouefref
    • 7 years ago

    Why don’t they use vacuum?

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      To avoid the needle scratching the disks.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        djhd(d)

      • AlvinTheNerd
      • 7 years ago

      The drive would be a lot heavier if they did. The gas is a minor part of the weight and the ‘weight reduction’ is pure marketing BS.

      The advantage for helium is it still has the same pressure as the atmosphere. Thus you only need enough structure around the disks to keep it from being damaged and keep the gas inside. The latter only needs a balloon’s thickness.

      If you had a vacuum, then there would be a pressure difference between the inside and outside and it would be the same as having 14 lbs of weight on every square inch of the drive plus a safety factor. You would need a thick steel barrel to hold that force continually and the drive itself would weight 5 lbs and be twice as large as current drives. It would use even less energy, but it would weight more than most laptops.

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        [quote=””<]You would need a thick steel barrel to hold that force continually [/quote<]Incadescent light bulbs operate in a vacuum and don't need steel barrels...methinks a hard drive wouldn't either. Now I have seen good points about other issues with a vacuum, but I don't think sealing would be terribly difficult.

          • bthylafh
          • 7 years ago

          Are you trolling? Most incandescent bulbs are filled with a mix of argon and nitrogen.

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            Nope, derping up my gaseous science today >.<

            I was also confusing myself with earlier developments of the light bulb…maybe I should go get some more caffeine.

            However, I do believe that you can make a relatively light glass encolsure and still have a vacuum.

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]However, I do believe that you can make a relatively light glass encolsure and still have a vacuum.[/quote<] Pretty sure you're right. You weren't looking for "incandescent light bulb," you were looking for "[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiometer<]radiometer[/url<]." Those are glass. They're also vacuums on the inside. They're obviously not perfect vacuums, but they're close enough that most of the Earth's atmospheric pressure is pretty solidly pushing on all sides of the glass, and they don't break. I don't think any hard drive with an internal vacuum would have any difficulty maintaining it's shape in the context of Earth's atmospheric pressure. The problem remains, of course, keeping the read/write head from crashing into the platter spinning beneath it at 5400-7200 RPM.

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            Space isn’t even a “perfect” vacuum for that matter. But we can certainly create a “close enough” environment for your radiometer and my [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_tube<]vacuum tubes[/url<] to work. All without the strenght of steel barrels, which was my point. The crashing issue would be an interesting problem to solve, though. If for no other reason than to fund science experiments.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Most such devices use a uniform shape and incorporate some sort of spherical elements into the design, while being permanently sealed. Flat surfaces and gaskets under differential pressure are considerably more tricky to assemble while maintaining integrity.

            • Brainsan
            • 7 years ago

            These are the largest glass vacuum envelopes I see on a regular basis. They are x-ray tubes, and there are even larger models.

            [url<]http://varian.mediaroom.com/image/1+GLASS+TUBE+LINE+thumbnail.jpg[/url<] And as others have said, another reason not to use vacuum in a hard drive was mentioned in the article itself: heat. Vacuum is a very good thermal insulator, and would complicate heat dissipation. Though with the global helium shortage, I have to wonder about the wisdom and cost of this approach.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          Glass is very stiff, and light bulbs tend to be round. This works in their favor.

          While the base casting of the drive ought to be able to withstand the pressure, the lid is going to deform unless substantially stiffened.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        1 atmosphere is about 14 psi, not 30.

          • AlvinTheNerd
          • 7 years ago

          You are correct.

          I had it memorized as a vacumm chamber must handle 30 psi, but that is atmospheric pressure and a safety factor.

        • A_Pickle
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]The gas is a minor part of the weight and the 'weight reduction' is pure marketing BS. [/quote<] It is minor, but it is also science, not marketing BS.

      • ClickClick5
      • 7 years ago

      Heat. Without some type of air inside, the drives would get quite warm inside. Unless there was a way to cool the platters and the heads through a heat conductive material to the outside of the case for cooling, air will still be required. 🙁

      • cheddarlump
      • 7 years ago

      Air/He in the drives is needed to conduct heat away from the platters/heads/motors, and also the heads have wings that literally fly the head over the platter on the air current that is dragged along by the platters. This is a major reason that heads “park” off the platter when the drive isn’t spinning, as most of the wear on older drives was due to start/stop cycles as the head would land (touch down) on the platter.

      This is also the reason hard drives have an altitude ceiling on them, as air under a certain pressure isn’t dense enough to maintain the proper fly height of the head.

      Helium also has a nice side benefit for this use, it’s really effective as a heat transfer medium (well, for a gas anyway) compared to air.

        • ClickClick5
        • 7 years ago

        Dont say heat! You get down voted for saying such things. I”ll +1 you.

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          Heat, heat, heat. IDGAF.

          The haters are out in force today, let them hate 😛

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            Heaters gonna heat.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            2 for 2 in this thread…you’re on fire 😉 today.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      Already been explained. The heads ride on an air bearing created by the spinning of the platters. They would need to completely re-engineer how the heads work in order to operate in a vacuum. Plus the external atmospheric pressure would crush the drive unless they made the outer casing thicker.

        • cheddarlump
        • 7 years ago

        Not really, 15psi isn’t that much.

          • yogibbear
          • 7 years ago

          Yes yes it is. Please don’t design any vacuum rated buildings / storage / equipment. You will kill people.

          [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz95_VvTxZM[/url<]

            • Brainsan
            • 7 years ago

            Thanks, I hadn’t seen that one. A most impressive demonstration.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          How many square inches is the top cover of a hard drive? 15 psi adds up when you’ve got a lot of surface area. The lid is made from fairly thin sheet metal, and supported only around its edge. At the least, they’d need to make the lid a lot thicker and heavier.

          It’s irrelevant anyway, since (as has already been noted) traditional hard drive heads don’t work in a vacuum.

      • Arclight
      • 7 years ago

      Why don’t HDDs just dissapear? SSDs are clearly better.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 7 years ago

        I just bought a 3TB 7200 rpm hard-drive last month for $149.91. How much would that have cost as an SSD?

          • Arclight
          • 7 years ago

          ONE MILLION DOLLARS (Dr. Evil pinky raised)

          Seriously though, SSDs will get there in time (price wise) once the marketshare shifts to the new tech. On the professional side though, they will surely remain overpriced.

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        …unless you take cost per GB into account, for an application that doesn’t *require* the blazing fast access times of SSDs.

      • Wirko
      • 7 years ago

      Indeed. Air is cheap but vacuum is free!

      • anotherengineer
      • 7 years ago

      Probably heat transfer.

      Vacuum is an excellent insulator. (helium is good also, but at least it offers cooling by convection, and as a gas it’s one of the better conductors, where as if it was a vacuum all heat transfer from the disks would be radiation.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 7 years ago

    I’m patenting NOS filled drives that spin uber fast!

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    Do you even need a gas in there? The next step would be a vacuum seal and have zero air resistance, and it could make drives virtually silent.

    Although, if helium actually changes the sound/noise, someone needs to do a Xenon filled drive just for fun.

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 7 years ago

      The vacuum does seem like the obvious choice. If they can seal it well enough to keep helium in, then why can’t they just vacuum it out then seal it?

        • BiffStroganoffsky
        • 7 years ago

        The air/gas is needed in there to insulate the read/write head from the platters. If there is no air ‘cushion’ for the heads to ride on, the heads would crash into the platters and destroy the data and themselves.

        • bthylafh
        • 7 years ago

        Drive heads don’t hit the surface because they’re on a cushion of air (or helium, in this case). The drives would need a serious re-engineering to work in vacuum.

        This brings up another question, though: how do these drives cope with changing air pressure? They have to be completely sealed to keep in the helium, unlike ordinary drives that simply have a thick filter to keep dust out but allow air to move in and out. Kind of important for air travel, or when the drive goes somewhere significantly higher or lower than the factory.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          I’d think structural changes in the HDD case and internal design would be sufficient. First, make the case stiff enough to minimize deformation due to pressure difference. That wouldn’t be enough though, it would only help. Second, mount anything inside that would be sensitive to change in position on a wholly internal substructure. For example, right now you can see the bottom of the motor spindle on the outside of HDDs. The whole motor assembly would need to be internal so that any deformation of the external case doesn’t affect alignment of the moving parts.

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            All of that could be easier to design if you planned on enterprise-only use and abandoned the current enclosure dimensions. It might mean that you would be going for performance rather than the kind of density that these Helium drives are going for, though

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          You just need to make the casing rigid enough to not deform if there’s a pressure differential between the inside and outside. The base casting is probably already stiff enough, so they’d just need to re-engineer the lid. Any seals where wires go into the drive would need to be a lot tougher as well, but they would already need to do that in order to have any chance of keeping all the helium inside over the service life of the drive.

        • Zarf
        • 7 years ago

        I’m not an expert on this, but from what I understand, you still need some sort of medium in there to transfer heat. The trick is to get a low-friction medium that is still thermally efficient, so they used helium. Heat would still be produced by the spinning platters even in a vacuum, and the heat that is made would be stuck with nowhere to go.

        Edit: Who’s downvoting this stuff? What did I do wrong? Both posts about the vacuum heat transfer issue got downvotes. I didn’t know Cegras was typing the same thing!

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          ZHARF

            • Zarf
            • 7 years ago

            P-HIKLE 😀

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        I guess this way they can market Helium drives for a few years before convincing everyone to switch to vacuum :p

        The only issue I see with both is potential failures. If suppose you do spring a leak, your drives won’t operate correctly because things will be too close together. Then the advantage will definitely be in favor of vacuum drives, because you can actually repair it without having to track down helium.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          But you’d need a vacuum chamber instead…

          And you’ll have problems with the case of the drive deforming under atmospheric pressure. You’re looking at something on the order of 200 lbs of pressure on the lid of the drive!

      • cegras
      • 7 years ago

      Poor heat transfer in a vacuum. Very poor.

      Also, the reason why helium makes your voice sound higher is that your vocal cords vibrate the gas. In a hard drive the vibrations are mainly from the motor / heads that are transferred through the chassis.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Thanks for the responses, guys. Those were things that I had not though about, and certainly puts things into a better perspective.

    • Kharnellius
    • 7 years ago

    I heard these are also supposed to be much lighter making them an attractive addition to any laptop/tablet.

    😉

      • Kharnellius
      • 7 years ago

      Ok, I realize my joke was pretty bad, but really? No one go it? (Or perhaps it was so bad everyone ran and hid)

        • yogibbear
        • 7 years ago

        The latter.

    • 5150
    • 7 years ago

    I vote for hydrogen instead. Imagine how much fun it could be if the “Click of Death” caused an explosion!

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      And here comes an engineer to ruin your fun:

      1. Hermetically sealed environment of pure hydrogen: no oxygen, no combustion.

      2. Odds of actually keeping the hydrogen inside a hard drive structure without some truly exotic case design and sealing methods: low to nil.

        • Goty
        • 7 years ago

        Not to mention the fact that it’s just going to bond to every surface inside the drive, anyhow.

          • Goty
          • 7 years ago

          “I don’t know anything about chemistry and/or I don’t like this guy so I’m going to vote him down, rawr!”

          – Random message board user

          • glacius555
          • 7 years ago

          Fixed. /chemist

        • bthylafh
        • 7 years ago

        The odds of keeping hydrogen in a case can’t be much worse than for helium. Only real difference is that He won’t react with any components.

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          You might think so, but materials science says otherwise. Hydrogen’s tiny size makes it extremely difficult to contain on a long-term basis.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 7 years ago

            Helium molecules are smaller than hydrogen molecules because there are two hydrogen atoms per molecule.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            The diatomic molecule is the stable form of the free gas at standard temperature and pressure, but it doesn’t necessarily stay in that form when it comes into contact with other materials. One of the most common problems is embrittlement of metals, because the molecules basically “dissolve” into the other substance and then diffuse through it:

            [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_embrittlement[/url<]

            • Voldenuit
            • 7 years ago

            Yes, additionally, a single helium atom is twice as massive as a hydrogen molecule (4u vs 2u), meaning that at the same temperature, the hydrogen molecule is moving at 1.4 times the speed, making it more likely to penetrate into and through the walls of the container.

            • anotherengineer
            • 7 years ago

            Isn’t it about 4 times?

            I thought hydrogen was 1 proton, whereas helium was 2 protons and 2 neutrons?

            • Voldenuit
            • 7 years ago

            A single hydrogen atom is 1 proton, but a hydrogen molecule is 2 hydrogen atoms, so for an un-dissociated hydrogen molecule, it would be 2x less massive than a single helium atom (2 protons and 2 neutrons).

            As ludi says, hydrogen can dissociate and dissolve into metals, but in that state, it doesn’t behave like a gas, you can’t directly compare it to helium gas then.

            • JustAnEngineer
            • 7 years ago

            H2 hydrogen molecules are a couple of orders of magnitude larger than helium.

            In a practical application, we leak-test valves and piping by pressuring them up with helium or a helium/air mixture and then sniffing the outside with a thermal conductivity detector. If the assembly has enough integrity to hold the helium, we won’t have any nasty surprises with gasket leaks when we introduce other gases (including hydrogen).

            • Voldenuit
            • 7 years ago

            Helium atom diameter is 0.64 angstroms. Hydrogen atom diameter is roughly 1 angstrom, but in the molecular state, the nuclei move closer to each other to a distance of 0.74 angstroms, creating a molecule roughly 1.5 angstroms across. That’s less than one order of magnitude, let alone several.

            Hydrogen isn’t used to detect leaks because it’s flammable (and explosive). Just because helium is used to detect leaks, doesn’t mean that it is more leak-prone than hydrogen. For applications like seals and gaskets, helium probably leaks more than hydrogen. But for pressure vessels and metal pipes, and especially for long-term storage and transport, hydrogen will leak through the walls quicker than helium, because it actually diffuses through the metal*.

            *EDIT: well, helium also diffuses through solids, but it does so slower than hydrogen for the various reasons that have already been posted in this thread.

            • yogibbear
            • 7 years ago

            Go back to school! You fake engineer! 😛

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          Please keep your religious crap to the forums!

            • bthylafh
            • 7 years ago

            That was worth a +1.

            • BIF
            • 7 years ago

            Yeah, if I had been drinking any coffee, it would be all over the place right now.

          • entropy13
          • 7 years ago

          Who is “He”??? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Cthulhu? Buddha? Zeus? Mars?

            • bthylafh
            • 7 years ago

            “Bob”.

            • Captain Ned
            • 7 years ago

            O Sandwich Maker!!!

            • helix
            • 7 years ago

            Helios.

            • Voldenuit
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Who is "He"??? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Cthulhu? Buddha? Zeus? Mars?[/quote<] My hard drive is powered by Raptor Jesus.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Engineers – making stuff boring and not explody since 1894 🙁

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          Depends on whether we’re acting on professional time, or free time.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Well played, +1 for you.

      • liquidsquid
      • 7 years ago

      AFAIK Hydrogen moves through some metals like it is hardly there, used for filtering it for industrial manufacturing.

      [url<]http://www.rebresearch.com/H2sol2.htm[/url<]

      • 5150
      • 7 years ago

      Wow! Top comment! Who woulda thunk it.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Only because they retired my Jobs Report Day Shortbread comment.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    I smell desperation. Get it?

      • dmjifn
      • 7 years ago

      Well, at least you’ve finally moved on from napalm and teen spirit.

    • hoboGeek
    • 7 years ago

    First.

    Helium is what they put in party balloons, isn’t it? I fear they will be a lot more expensive from now on, given the rarity of this gas on Earth…

    Bazinga!

      • prb123
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-08/future-these-will-cost-100-each[/url<] There are legitimate concerns over Helium Pricing, however I'm sure they are using the standard Helium harvested from air, not the uber-rare Helium-3 isotope this article primarily covers. Actually it seems to me that if more harvesting is done the price should go down not up.

        • bthylafh
        • 7 years ago

        You don’t get much (if any) helium from the atmosphere (it’s light enough that it won’t stick around for long). You get it from deep underground, where it’s been trapped for eons. It comes from uranium and other radioactive elements decaying and producing alpha particles, which are essentially helium nuclei. They pick up electrons from wherever and you’ve got helium.

        Stuff tends to collect in the same places that natural gas does.

        As a result, there’s only so much helium to go around and once it’s gone there’s no more. People using it for kids’ balloons is a damned waste.

          • A_Pickle
          • 7 years ago

          >As a result, there’s only so much helium to go around and once it’s gone there’s no more. People using it for kids’ balloons is a damned waste.

          Agreed. Hydrogen would be just fine for parties, and it’s easier to make…

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Hydrogen, along with open flame birthday candles, would also make for some excitement!

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Oh, the humanity!

            • A_Pickle
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t honestly think the hydrogen from party balloons would be enough to be particularly dangerous unless you’re a complete fucking idiot. Which, touche, I suppose there are plenty of them around the world parenting children, so damn. Party balloons must go.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Crap on a crud, you were [i<]serious[/i<]? This is a classic high school/college 101 chemistry experiment. You fill a party balloon from the hydrogen bottle (it will hold it for a few hours), then touch it with a match (on a long stick). It goes off with a big bang and a pale-orange ball of fire. This is NOT the kind of thing you want in a residential birthday party. Moreover, the balloon will contain the hydrogen for an even shorter time than it will contain helium (notice how helium filled balloons are smaller and sitting on the floor the next day?), and then that hydrogen is free in the structure, where it will rise upward, and is now minngled with oxygen. At the right concentration, it is just waiting for the slightest ignition source (a spark inside a light switch can be enough). This is not a happy situation -- it was precisely this phenomenon, on a much larger scale, that blew up the reactor buildings at Fukushima. A simple cluster of party balloons, filled with hydrogen, is both a short-term and medium-term hazard to life and property.

            • Brainsan
            • 7 years ago

            Have you never seen YouTube and/or America’s Funniest Home Videos???

            “The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” — Harlan Ellison

            So imagine what happens when you combine them.

          • Sahrin
          • 7 years ago

          >As a result, there’s only so much helium to go around and once it’s gone there’s no more. People using it for kids’ balloons is a damned waste.

          You explained in your post why there is plenty of helium to go around. It comes from Alpha decay, any radioactive isotope that decays via alphas produces helium. We can’t run out of helium as long as we have neutron generators.

            • bthylafh
            • 7 years ago

            You really have no idea how long it takes for these radioisotopes to decay, do you?

            Half-lives in the millions to billions of years, mate. The helium cookers are on a /very/ slow simmer.

            • Voldenuit
            • 7 years ago

            You can’t make a useful resource by creating it atom-by-atom.

            Otherwise we could be using anti-matter as a power source by now.

          • sherlock
          • 7 years ago

          Nazis used to want those Helium for Zepplins, but FDR refused to sell so Hiddenburg happened.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]First.[/quote<] Good job.

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 7 years ago

      Great. Now I’ll be the old man, telling the kids to quit huffing my hard drives.

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