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Helium makes you sound funny when inhaled, but there's nothing funny about the idea that Earth may be running out of what is the second most common element in the universe.

Cornell physicist Robert Richardson, who won the Nobel Prize in 1996 for his work with super-fluid helium, is sounding the alarm. Unlike hydrogen, which can easily be broken down from water molecules, no one can make more helium.

"It's a rare gas. The only way helium can be made is alpha decay of rocks over millions of years, or the fusion in the Sun", says Richardson. He reminds us that, "helium has no 'chemistry.' It is a mere placeholder between hydrogen and lithium on the periodic table."

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