A few weeks ago I went to a kid’s birthday party. I was filling balloons up from a small helium tank and, as usual, goofing around. I made my voice all squeaky, and we all had a laugh. Once I had my fun, I quickly switched to being the Neil Tyson* of the party. I let everybody know that they were squandering a non-renewable resource, and that one day there would be no more floating balloons. Ever.
Some children cried. Somebody wondered out loud who invited me. I tipped my hat and left.
Thankfully, while the situation is becoming grim, it’s not hopeless. In the future we’ll probably derive our helium from nuclear fusion ( the sun is filled with the junk) or by mining it from the moon, where it is trapped in the rocks**. Until then, we should start scrimping. There are particle accelerators that are relying on helium’s cooling properties to run their magnets. It’d be shame if we had to cancel physics because I huffed too many balloons as a college student.
Here’s Science Comedian Brian Malow in a piece for Time Magazine.
Also: I was interviewed by Sal Crivelli over at Little House Entertainment. There I spill the beans on what inspired me to draw this comic and whether or not I really killed a man with a bow and arrow in Japan. Exciting! (Full Disclosure: Years ago I drew an early version of their comic, Horsemen, and more recently I illustrated a page in the SMBFZ collection). Read the interview here
ALSO: I have an illustration in the latest Soapbox Science by science illustrator Emily Coren, where she makes her case for the importance of science communication and offers up a useful list of resources.
*The Neil Tyson meme here on Sci-ence stems from the demotion of Pluto in 2006, and the subsequent angry letters he received from 3rd graders.
**This is similar to the plot behind Duncan Jones’ Moon, where Sam Rockwell’s character is mining the lunar regolith for helium-3 that is used as fuel back on Earth.
1 Bonus: Zangief.