Having seen some huge birds of prey recently, which may or may not be Iberian eagles, I have a tendency to watch the skies when out walking.
This morning there was a blob high up which looked vaguely like the waspish ultra-light we often see. Since it was making no noise, and seemed to be hovering rather than going anywhere, it was clear, though, that that wasn’t what it was.
When I got close enought to see, it turned out to be a helium balloon:
This reminded me of a story I’d seen early in the week about medical helium stocks running low while the gas is squandered in balloons.
Although I’m pretty sure I’ve never bought or been given a helium balloon, so don’t feel guilty, I suppose it’s one more natural resource problem to be concerned about. Sadly, the idea of scientists complaining about party balloons reminds me too much of the grumpy scientists trying to create the infinite probability field in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea) were of course well understood – and such generators were often used break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the hostess’s undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left, in accordance with the Theory of Indeterminacy. Many respectable physicists said that they weren’t going to stand for this – partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they didn’t get invited to those sort of parties.
Perhaps they don’t get given helium balloons for their birthdays, either.