vrmlguy writes "Within nine years the National Helium Reserve will be depleted, according to an article in Science Daily. It quotes Dr. Lee Sobotka, of Washington University in St. Louis: 'Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. Its properties are unique and unlike hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas or oil), there are no biosynthetic ways to make an alternative to helium. All should make better efforts to recycle it.' (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a local article with quotes from Dr. Sobotka and representatives of the balloon industry.) On Earth, Helium is found mixed with natural gas, but few producers capture it. Extracting it from the atmosphere is not cost-effective. The US created a stockpile, the National Helium Reserve, in 1925 for use by military dirigibles, but stopped stockpiling it in 1995 as a cost-saving measure."