Ever wonder why this colorless, odorless, tasteless non-toxic gas is named strong>Helium? The name Helium comes from a Greek word Helios meaning sun. It was in the Sun that this element was first discovered. In 1868 a French Scientist, Jules Janssen was observing a total solar eclipse. He noticed a bright yellow spectrum and thought it was Sodium. It was Norman Lockyer who discovered that this line of thinking did not match that of the spectral line of sodium. He therefore proposed that this was a new element and identified it as Helium.
Helium is known to be the second lightest and second most abundant element next to Hydrogen. In the periodic table of elements, it heads the noble gas group having the atomic number 2. Helium has the lowest boiling and melting points among these elements. Unlike other elements, it never freezes, down to absolute zero temperature under normal pressure, it remains liquid.
Because this gas is lighter than air and non-flammable, it is used to inflate balloons and airships. More importantly, helium is used in producing rocket fuel condensing hydrogen and oxygen. Other uses include MRI scanner applications, arc welding processes and in producing superconductivity of some metals. Mixing with oxygen, it is used as artificial air for divers and those working under pressure.