Quantify Life: Helium Reserves Depleting

UP_Poster1500This morning there was a news story in the Wall Street Journal on the serious depletion of US Helium reserve. While congress does their job let us take a moment to analyze the impact of a story like this on the Pixar movie UP. If you have not seen it here is a good review.

Breaking down the numbers:

Constant: Lifting force of helium.

1 Gram per liter of Helium

Estimates: Average weight of a US home.

120,000 lbs. (80,000 to 160,000 pounds)
In metric (to science-ify it): 54,431.1 Kilograms or 54,431,100 Grams
= Quantity of Helium required to achieve lift: 54,431,100 Liters

Supply and DemandGovernment set price of helium.

$84 per 1000 cubic feet (mcf) for fiscal year 2013.
1 mcf = 28,317 Liters
= $0.00296 per Liter

Putting the numbers together:

54,431,100 Liters * $0.00296 = $161,116.056

To Summarize:

With that kind of large upfront investment required (keep in mind no such thing as a mortgage for helium) no way UP could have been possible. These are conservative numbers following cost has not been taken in to consideration:

  • Balloons
  • Twine/string
  • Shipping
  • Storage
  • Back office coordination
  • Extra helium to account for loss due to
    • Weak balloon knots
    • Balloons lost to environment (birds, wires, trees, etc.)
    • Impromptu helium voice party
  • and so much more…

My point in all this: Thank You Animators!!!

Until next time,


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