More balloon trivia (not really Sonic-related)

From: Ron Bauerle <>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 8:42:20 -0500 (EST)

I'll remove my correspondent's address to protect the innocent/guilty and
so you can flame me for this being off-topic, but I thought it might be of

The only comment I'll make is that as long as these "other inert gases"
aren't things like chlorine, carbon monoxide, or hydrogen sulfide (none of
which are really inert :^)), then I don't know what would be dangerous
about inhaling party helium (but don't sue me if you do and it kills you :^))

>Here's some trivia for you all: according to the parade hosts, Sonic was
>the second largest (in terms of helium used) balloon in the parade
>(Garfield was first), and Macy's parade is the second biggest user of
>helium in the country (world?) - the US government is first.

Additional trivia...the entire stock of helium in the US is under control
of the US government. This was done right after WWI, as airships (balloons
and dirigibles) had played such an important part in the previous skirmish.
In particular, Germany was denied access to all helium stores in the world.
Thus, to run their growing airship industry, Germany turned to hydrogen
gas, which could be manufactured very simply and in mass quantities.

Of course, the problem with hydrogen is that it is highly combustible...and
led to the destruction of the Hindenberg as it was landing in New Jersey.
While there are numerous rumors, the accepted trigger was a static electric
discharge that traveled along one of the many mooring ropes trailing from
the ship.
Trivia item #2 - the helium used to inflate the common party balloon, as
you see from many restaurants and other stores, is not 100% pure helium.
It's my understanding that it's only about 70% helium, with other inert
gases. And it's also a good reason not to breathe "balloon" helium. Yes,
the helium is inert, and makes you sound funny...but you don't know what
those other gases in there could be. I don't know about the Macy's Parade
balloons, whether they use pure helium or the 'balloon' helium.

Received on Mon Nov 27 1995 - 09:15:17 PST

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