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  • The Evils Of Helium Balloons…and why you shouldn’t use them this holiday season.

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 3 December 2015

    Tis the season to be Jolly! We’re into the time for celebrations, festive cheer and office parties, drinks, mince pies and holiday decorations. And yet using some of those decorations could have serious consequences for us in the future, I’m talking of course about the menace that is… helium filled balloons.

    You'll thank me one day. "The Grinch (That Stole Christmas)". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

    You’ll thank me one day.
    “The Grinch (That Stole Christmas)”.
    Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

    Helium and UCL have a long and entwined history. Sir William Ramsay first identified it on earth on March 26th, 1895, in his UCL lab (now an artist’s studio in the Slade School of Art) and it was this, along with his discovery of argon, neon, krypton and xenon, that won him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1904. There’s a couple of labs named after him, and arguably without him our neighbouring area of Soho would look very different (as helium is used in ‘Neon’ signs).  (more…)

    Cleveite [not Clevite] and helium

    By Wendy L Kirk, on 11 January 2013

     

    Specimen of cleveite

    Curating one’s office always brings to light something interesting, and recently I came across an article written by one of our Geology graduates, Danny Howard, who stayed on for a period in Earth Sciences to work on the Johnston-Lavis collection of minerals and rocks.  However, he found time to write for UCL News “Private View”, a series of articles about objects in the UCL collections.  For the 2004 issue, he wrote about the specimen of cleveite in the labelled glass jar shown here.  I remember finding this specimen a year or two previously in the Geology sub-basement store – as you do – when burrowing through the collections with Jayne Dunn, currently the UCL Collections Manager.  Quite how it came to be there, I don’t know.  Many years previously – maybe a decade or  two – the store had belonged to the Chemistry department, but it had long been cleared out and shelved to receive geology specimens.  Nonetheless, there it was on a shelf that day, neither of us having knowingly seen it before. (more…)