The discovery of helium 150 years ago is being marked with a celebration at the Helium Time Columns Monument in Amarillo, Texas, on Saturday, 29th September (10am to 2pm).


The Helium Columns Monument, Amarillo

Source: Don Harrington Discovery Center

Helium will again be the focus four days later elsewhere in Texas with the beginning of gasworld’s Helium Summit 2018 at the Marriott Marquis, Houston, which will provide insight into the declining capacity of the US Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Helium Pipeline.

The Helium Time Columns was unveiled in 1968 to mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium and is in Amarillo due to the Texas city being home of the US government’s strategic helium reserve and gas production, which has operated from the Cliffside Gas Field since 1927.

The Helium Time Columns at the Don Harrington Discovery Center is also a time-capsule to be opened at 25, 50, 100 and 1,000 years; this weekend sees the 50-year opening of the capsules. At the anniversary event, the time capsules from 1968 and 1993 will be opened for the public to look at before more items from today are put back in the time capsule.

The time-capsule monument has four helium-filled columns containing books and artefacts aimed to tell future generations of what life was like in 1968, 1993 and 2018.

There will be live science demonstrations, explanations of how helium is used in technology, an official ceremony (1pm), DIY time capsules, balloons and live music.

Organisers are asking people to bring their photographs and memorabilia of the Amarillo Helium Plant, which accounted for nearly all the world’s supply of helium between 1929 and 1943, and has been closed for 20 years. Volunteers will be on hand to photograph and scan items (all original material will be returned immediately).

The new items, and personal stories, will be placed and resealed in the time capsule for future generations to view in the year 2093.

Helium was first discovered on 18th August, 1868, by French astronomer Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen, who noticed the spectral emission lines that were present around the sun during an eclipse.