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Chemical Elements

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HistoryIn 1868, the astronomer, Pierre Janssen, discovered that helium is on the Sun. After Pierre had discovered helium on the Sun many scientist did not believe him because they thought it was impossible for an element to exist on the Sun. They believed that elements only existed on Earth. Then in 1895, scientist, Sir William Ramsay, discovered helium in another element called uranium. Uranium is in the f block on the periodic table. It is used to make nuclear weapons. Around the same time that Ramsay discovered helium in uranium two Swedish scientists, Nils Langlet and Per Theodor Cleve, discovered helium in clevite. Clevite is used for engine parts in cars.

Fun Fact Helium can change the pitch in someone’s voice. Sound waves are made when words are spoken. Helium speeds up the vibrations in the esophagus that make the voice a high pitch. It is not toxic therefore will not harm anyone. When helium is not inhaled the voice is regular because the sound waves are at a regular pace. When helium is inhaled the sound waves are moving at a faster rate and that is what makes it at a higher pitch. The voice sounds childlike and pitchy. The voice returns to normal in a short period of time.

Uses of Helium Helium is used for shielding arc welding. It is used to cool down superconducting magnets. It can increase the pressure in a tank of rockets. Divers use helium and oxygen on dives to help with the atmosphere to survive high pressure environments. Helium is also used to help conditions that affect breathing like asthma. Oxygen and helium are used together to get to the lungs quicker. Liquefied helium is used in hospital MRI scans. When at boiling point it is used in MRI magnet cooling down. Helium is usually used to fill balloons and in blimps. NASA uses helium instead of liquid gas due to the corrosive material that could destroy a spacecraft’s casing. They also use helium over nitrogen because it is lighter and non-flammable.

Pierre Janssen



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