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We’re In A Global Helium Shortage — Why Are We Using It For Balloons?

Macys Helium

Snoopy and Woodstock from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Image Source: Macy’s

“When it’s gone, it is lost to us forever.”

That’s what University College London chemist Andrea Sella said regarding helium, the element that is used to bring the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons to life each year.

As many families gather by their TV screens — or, for some in New York City, Manhattan sidewalks — this Thursday morning, they will bear witness to one of the United States’ most revered holiday traditions. Knowingly or not, they will also bear witness to the reality that human desire often trumps the wisdom of restraint. When the balloons complete their November 27th route, over 300,000 cubic feet of helium — the spatial equivalent of two million gallons of water — will have been used, and will thus not be available for future use.

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Photo Of The Day: “Origin of Species” Turns 156 Years Old Today


A reconstruction of what Lucy, scientifically known as Australopithecus afarensis, might have looked like. Lucy is thought to be part of the missing link in Darwin’s theory of evolution.

On Nov. 24, 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, and changed how the world thought about the beginning of humankind. The radical book is responsible for our current understanding of where human beings fit into the timeline of life on Earth (with early ancestors such as “Lucy,” pictured above, providing one of the many missing pieces of the puzzle), but its publication only came after decades of quiet work.

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These Vintage Ads Prove That Thanksgiving Is One Of The Weirdest Holidays Ever

Thanksgiving is already an odd holiday, built as it is on the fraudulent belief that settlers were at peace with indigenous populations before the genocide began. These vintage advertisements make Thanksgiving seem even weirder, though. Let’s take a look back at the good old days, when children gleefully slaughtered turkeys, casual chauvinism made the dinner extra tasty, and the Joneses’ Thanksgiving cards cranked the racism against Native Americans up to 11. Continue Reading

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