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Helium - Essay Example

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Abstract: For most common people with typical issues to address in life, there would seem to be no space in thought to accommodate problems of scientific nature or as viewed from the context that they cannot readily engage in understanding as the impending deficiencies in atmospheric elements. …
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Download file to see previous pages Nobel Prize winners in Physics like R. Richardson with colleagues Osheroff and Lee, nevertheless, points out the essential features of ‘helium’ and the reasons which are worth startling the public to the extent of agreeing that expensive costs be imposed on helium for the sustenance of MRIs, fiber optics, rockets, and other machines that hold special vitality in supporting human lives and activities. Where does helium come from? (in geographical, political and economic terms, as much as the chemical origins). Basically, Sun is the primary source of helium, one of the most stable elements, which is yielded through hydrogen fusion reactions in the solar system whereas on Earth, the radioactive decay of massive elements which are chiefly thorium and uranium over billions of years is found to cause helium formation beneath the Earth’s surface. Along with natural gas, the helium produced exudes out of large rock cavities under low pressure into the atmosphere which has approximately five parts of helium per 100,000 parts of air (Lansing, 1995). In 1868, spectrometer was first used to examine the Sun’s chromospheres during a solar eclipse in India where the resulting spectrum confirmed quantities of hydrogen including yellow stripes which were alleged to characterize sodium element. Unconvinced by the initial hypothesis, French astronomer Janssen further investigated on the matter and was able to disclose the truth about the stripes as beyond the traits of sodium but were most likely part of an unknown element’s identity. On a separate intensive research conducted by Lockyer and Frankland, Janssen’s results proved that due to its ‘bright yellow stripe’, the element could not have originated from the earth after which Frankland proposed to call it “helium” coming from the Greek word “Helios” meaning Sun. Similar findings were revealed through a range of spectra of other stars that comprised the yellow stripes whereas Palmieri observed them in gases erupting from Mt. Vesuvius back in 1882. It was not until 1895 that the studies of helium became more meaning when Sir William Ramsay treated a Norwegian ore (cleveite) with acids which yielded evolution of helium gas. Hence, the appearance of the yellowish streak in the experiment marked the certainty that on our planet, helium does exist. After nearly two decades, around the same time radium came to be known, scientists had undergone another batch of efforts that would lay foundations for an understanding of helium as a radioactive substance (Helium, History). Geographical findings indicate that the United States, specifically Texas, makes the world’s largest manufacturer of helium despite the valuable presence of helium extraction facilities in Algeria, Russia, and China. Being distilled from the natural gas that contains appreciable quantity of uranium and thorium to undergo radioactive decomposition, the helium formed is normally derived from rare circumstances of alpha-particle capture occurring underground at considerable depths (Deakin, 2010). Helium is opulently recovered from a region in Amarillo, Texas or the Texas panhandle within a perimeter of 400-km radius and this accounts for a major resource amount that sustains different parts of the world with their helium requirement (Edwards, 2004). Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma are also states of origin responsible for contributing small percentages of helium throughout all nations (ScienceDaily). What are the major uses of helium and why are existing reserves irreversibly declining? Several applications of Helium has have been made possible due to the element’s distinct chemical and physical properties such as low boiling point, low ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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