Running out of number 2? In an election year? Is that possible? Oh, wait – it’s number 2 on the periodic table they’re talking about. And yes, we’re in the middle of a helium shortage. Time explains:
Helium is a common inert gas, but for commercial purposes it’s usually generated as a byproduct from natural gas mining. But because the recession has caused a slowdown in natural-gas production, helium markets are facing a shortage; more plants will coming online by the end of 2012 in Qatar, Russia and Wyoming, but not in time to ease the current crisis.