Wednesday, May 1 2013, 10:29 AM Monday, April 8 2013, 04:07 PM Friday, April 5 2013, 05:15 PM Friday, February 22 2013, 09:41 AM Sunday, February 17 2013, 04:41 PM Friday, February 15 2013, 09:17 PM Friday, February 8 2013, 11:06 AM Thursday, February 7 2013, 12:22 AM Sunday, January 27 2013, 06:38 PM Wednesday, January 23 2013, 09:44 PM
Grim indeed, yet eloquent and utterly compelling."
The End: NECESSARY EVIL Is Out! - 5/1/2013, 10:29 AM Because I Haven't Posted About tDCS In A While - 4/8/2013, 04:07 PM Announcing the NECESSARY EVIL Signing Tour - 4/5/2013, 05:15 PM Nuclear Deterrence in a Blood Magic World - 2/22/2013, 09:41 AM Guest Post #2 at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/17/2013, 04:41 PM Guest Post at Charlie Stross's Blog - 2/15/2013, 09:17 PM A Conversation with Charlie Stross - 2/8/2013, 11:06 AM NOW OUT in the UK: THE COLDEST WAR - 2/7/2013, 12:22 AM Clarion Is Accepting Applications for the Class of 2013 - 1/27/2013, 06:38 PM Holy Smokes! Cover Art for Something More Than Night - 1/23/2013, 09:44 PM
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Sigh. Obviously, I've fallen off the keeping-the-website-updated wagon. But is anybody surpised? Of course not. It's not like there isn't precedent.
Lots of crazy things going on in my life right now, including some incredibly exciting stuff. But I can't talk about most of it yet. So I won't. Yet. Suffice it to say that I'm going to be VERY BUSY for the medium-term future. Mostly in a very good way—I'm deliriously happy.
In the meantime, though, helium is back in the news this week.
The news piece I linked to above (this one) briefly sketches in the situation with the Strategic Helium Reserve. I'm a little disappointed, though, that it didn't touch on the larger-scale problems inherent in the vastly unwise decision to sell off the contents of the reserve. The fluctuation in helium prices is a short-term problem. A much longer term problem will be the complete extinction of helium on this planet, which is effectively what will happen if current trends continue. Conceivably within the lifetimes of the people reading this (assuming there are any).
So, it's not a bad introduction to the situation. (The audio link is a bit more comprehensive than the accompanying text.) Just don't read the comments, because they're full of brain-exploding ignorance. As I worked out in a fair bit of detail in my series of posts last year, helium really, truly, is not renewable. (Unless you're willing to wait a billion years for it to build up again.) Anybody who insists otherwise is an ignorant fool.
Why does no one ever want to listen to her prognostications of imminent but avoidable doom?
This impending helium problem is a little disgusting. The only thing that's making me feel hopeful is that fact that I'm seeing it discussed here, and elsewhere, more then ever before.
Years ago I got involved with scuba diving. Nowadays you'll find many "serious" recreational dives to 100-250 foot depth. At those pressures nitrogen does exciting things to the nervous system so helium is added to the breathing mixture. It's not unusual to breathe 100+ cubic feet of high-purity helium on a dive.
So far so hoopy, right? This isn't helium-3 just normal flavor. But after a few discussions with gas experts I found a consensus, at that time anyway. in their opinion the dirty little secret was that although helium-blend was far more expensive more than air, that high price was far lower than the real value of the helium. Apparently subsidies come heavily into play. One guy whose opinion I respect thinks that a normal party balloon's helium may be worth 50 bucks.
Made me feel odd to breathe it, knowing that every exhale sends irreplaceable helium beyond further use.
So to Ian and others of a scientific mind, do you believe that the (mis)use of non-exotic helium isotopes plays a role in the problem? Can we dump it by the blimp-full or is every theme park balloon a real loss?
Also, I'm dying to know these exciting things Ian can't talk about yet. The fun stuff is always off the table, sigh.
Yeah, it is good that they mention that there is a problem, but the article pretty much missed the real problem. Which is, as you say, that the Helium will be gone eventually. Then the price will "fluctuate" to infinite. At least until we go into space mining.
Glad to hear you are deliriously happy and looking forward to the reasons.
Sara G: Hello! (Answer: Because Cassandra is such a downer.)
MrConclusion: It is a really disgusting problem -- the shortsightedness of the whole thing turns my stomach. Maybe, as you say, we can see some glimmers of hope in the fact that people are starting to discuss the problem. I still worry, though. I find it incredibly interesting that diving experts (a use for helium that I never even encountered when studying the problem on my own!) know the price of a helium mixture is far below the actual value of the helium. I've heard that figure of $50 for a single party balloon elsewhere, too. The casual use of regular, non-exotic helium isotopes is a major part of the problem, no question about it. Felix Baumgartner's supersonic skydive was absolutely awesome, but the balloon he used a LOT of helium that we'll never see again.
Steve: Yes indeed, the fluctuations will approach infinity over time. That's a good way to put it! At least, as you say, until we start space mining. Maybe we can skim helium from the atmospheres of gas giants?
Unwalkers interview [English | French ]
Interview with Speculate! Podcast Interview with Adventures in SciFi Publishing
Ian Tregillis on the Sword and Laser Podcast
Ian Tregillis on John Scalzi's The Big Idea
Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with SFRevu
Interview with Mad Hatter Book Review
Interview with Apex Books
Interview at Literary Musings Interview with Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
An interview with the authors of Busted Flush at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview with Travis Heermann at The Write Line
9-way interview with the contributors to the Wild Cards novel Inside Straight at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Interview in the February, 2008 newsletter of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
An extended interview with Ian Tregillis by Ty Franck, on www.wildcardsbooks.com.