In the 1990's, the US Bureau of Land Management unintentionally became the worlds largest supplier of helium. Last year, the world faced a potential helium cliff, when the US government had to decide whether to keep selling helium or exit the market as they'd originally planned.
Thankfully, the crisis was averted; this last July the US started auctioning off large chunks of its helium to other suppliers, in an effort to keep the helium market healthy.
Today on the Phyiscs Central podcast, we're talking about helium and the very important role it plays for many physicists around the world. We'll talk about how the helium market got to the edge of that economic cliff, why some physicists rely so heavily on helium, and what they're doing now to survive in the helium market.