Irregular Webcomic!

Archive     Blog     Cast     Forum     RSS     Books!     Poll Results     About     Search     Fan Art     Podcast     More Stuff     Random     Support on Patreon
New comics Mon-Fri; reruns Sat-Sun
<   No. 5086   2023-12-11   >

Comic #5086

1 Paris: You bought helium as a short-term investment?! It’s the second most abundant element in the universe!
2 Serron: I bought a valuable isotope.
2 Spanners: Wait. Helium-3? That’s actually sensible.
3 Serron: No. The even rarer and more valuable Helium-5.
4 Spanners: That has a half-life of 600 yoctoseconds! That’s less than a quadrillionth of a nanosecond!
4 Iki Piki: He did say it was a short-term investment.

First (1) | Previous (5085) | Next (5087) || Latest Rerun (2576) | Latest New (5175)
First 5 | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Latest 5
Space theme: First | Previous | Next | Latest || First 5 | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Latest 5
This strip's permanent URL: https://www.irregularwebcomic.net/5086.html
Annotations off: turn on
Annotations on: turn off

Helium has two stable isotopes: helium-4 with two protons and two neutrons, which makes up virtually all of the helium found on Earth, and helium-3 with two protons and just one neutron, which accounts for only a little over one millionth of the helium on Earth. The relative abundances of these two isotopes vary a lot in different parts of the universe. In interstellar space, helium-3 makes up over a ten-thousandth of all the helium.

Besides being much rarer, helium-3 is also potentially useful as fuel for fusion reactors, the long-promised clean and safe energy source of the future. So in a futuristic society, helium-3 is likely to be pretty valuable.

There are other isotopes of helium with different numbers of neutrons, but all of them are radioactive and decay to other isotopes/elements. Besides that, they all have short half lives, less than a second. Helium-5, with three neutrons, has a half life of 602 yoctoseconds, or 602×10-24 seconds.

LEGO® is a registered trademark of the LEGO Group of companies, which does not sponsor, authorise, or endorse this site.
This material is presented in accordance with the LEGO® Fair Play Guidelines.

My comics: Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Eavesdropper | Planet of Hats | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | mezzacotta
My blogs: dangermouse.net (daily updates) | 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe (science!) | Carpe DMM (long form posts) | Snot Block & Roll (food reviews)
More comics I host: The Prisoner of Monty Hall | Lightning Made of Owls | Square Root of Minus Garfield | iToons | Comments on a Postcard | Awkward Fumbles
© 2002-2024 Creative Commons License
This work is copyright and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence by David Morgan-Mar. dmm@irregularwebcomic.net