May 19, 2011
By DAVID SCHECHTER
AMARILLO — It's a natural resource found in Texas.
It is critical to our national security.
And we're running out of it.
No, we're not talking about oil.
Texas leads the nation in the production of helium, a gas that's about more than balloons and unnaturally high voices; it is absolutely essential to modern science.
"For me, it's instrumental in understanding the origin of the universe,” said SMU physicist Stephen Sekula.
Helium is a by-product of natural gas drilling, and its super cooling properties are unrivaled in nature.
It's essential to MRI machines, exploring space with high-powered rockets, and cooling the next generation of nuclear power plants.
Without helium, Sekula's work would not be possible. He is one of thousands of scientists at the atom-smashing Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, where they're trying to understand the forces that created our world.
"Without liquid helium, we just can't build these experiments, and we can't answer these big questions,” Sekula said.
Read the full story and watch the video.
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