Re: Waste of Helium?
Yeah, well Hydrogen wasn't on sale.
Helium isn't nearly as rare as you think. We had absolutely no trouble procuring the enormous quantities of He3 for the cooling system in our new mirror production facility. It is blindingly expensive, sure, but there's as much of it as you want if you're willing to pay.
The entire market is skewed by long term surplus that makes obtaining more He a loser. Surplus anything held for long periods of time increases pricing, not decrease it like people think. The problem is that although surplus is held 'in reserve' you still have to figure it into overall availability because whoever is holding the surplus can dump it, either into the market, or into the garbage, at any time. You've got a massive uncertainty variable there that drives prices up and up because the market wants to get as much as possible out of each trade so that when something is done with the surplus they'll have made lots of money and can move out with minimal losses. The same uncertainty variable discourages people from obtaining more.
There are many things in the world that are truly rare, but He isn't one of them. It's an artificially capped market specifically designed to maximize pricing. Yes, manipulating markets sucks, but the added costs aren't the most damaging part of all that. What really causes BIG problems is that people think the resource is being wasted. I'm not saying you're dumb or ignorant or anything of the sort, but you have been mislead about the rarity of He. That causes blowback at places like NASA, ESA, CERN and other heavy science institutions.
If you want to see Helium being wasted come on down to Waterford, VA in October for Don Jefe day where we tie a Helium filled weather balloon to a giant piñata shaped like the Trojan Rabbit from Monty Python's Holy Grail and attempt to shoot it down using nothing but an analog watch, a transit and the balloon's position relative to Venus to calculate positioning for the servo controlled cannon emplacement. It's great fun.