Birthday balloon

Helium is the second element in the periodic table, atomic number two. It was first discovered when they measured the spectrum of the Sun. It was found as a line in the spectrum that did not appear to be on Earth.

Balloons like this are filled with this dwindling resource, if I remember correctly it’s from a place in America. I think there is a world shortage.

Helium is the second lightest element, but unlike Hydrogen which is the lightest, it doesn’t react with anything. So Helium stays on its own, it escapes out of our atmosphere. Hydrogen on the other hand reacts with many elements and this results in H2O, water, as two hydrogen atoms link with one oxygen.

Coventry University had a whole series of videos on YouTube that was about the elements if I remember. It was very interesting and they discussed all the elements in the periodic table. It was presented by a professor with mad grey curly hair….

Helium balloon…


I was given a Helium balloon by a friend for our anniversary and its gradually losing Helium as the days go by. Helium can escape because it has the second smallest atom in the periodic table, and can diffuse through the skin of the balloon. Helium is also inert so unlike Hydrogen that has the smallest atoms, it won’t burn. (Hydrogen on the other hand is very reactive and burns with Oxygen in the atmosphere to make water).

The balloon has gradually sunk in the air as its buoyancy has reduced. We gradually cut off the ribbon on it and as that reduced its weight it flew higher. Its also following air currents and drifted around the house. Rather like a drop of water floating in the international space station the balloon has drifted up and down the stairs. When it gets above a radiator it ascends, and when it drifts out of the warm air it descends again. At the moment it’s bobbing around the living room, like one of the giant bubbles in the 1960s series ‘the prisoner’….

A not very interesting anecdote…..