ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom

This month – on August 18th, in fact – noble gas helium celebrated its 150th birthday, initially discovered back in 1868 by French scientist Jules Janssen. He was looking at the sun’s atmosphere during a solar eclipse using an instrument that separated the light into a spectrum, later realising that he could observe this even without an eclipse – eventually spotting a yellow line in the resulting data.

Moving on from this a few months later, English scientist Norman Lockyer also spotted this yellow line, suggesting that it was in fact evidence of a new element… which was later christened helium.

According to Inside Science, it took a further 27 years before helium was found inside a mineral called cleveite, this time by chemists William Ramsay, Per Teodor Cleve and Nils Abraham Langlet.

At the turn of the century, helium was liquified for the first time ever, thanks to one Heike Kamerlingh Onnes. Liquid helium is very clever because it can be used to cool everything from new materials to superconducting magnets in MRI machines. This is apparently the biggest single use of helium today, making up approximately a quarter of all production.

Are we running out of helium?

Unfortunately, supplies of helium have been running short (which is why calls have been issued in the past to ban it for use in balloons and other non-essential pursuits), but a few years ago a huge source of helium gas was discovered in the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania.

According to New Scientist, the reserve was so big that it could fill around 600,000 Olympic swimming pools!
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Electron beam services have been used for a wide variety of applications over the years, but they haven’t yet been used on fruit.

That could be set to change as electron beams could be used to ensure that insects don’t make it to your fruit bowl along with your fruit.

We have all heard horror stories about people finding poisonous spiders on their bananas, but this arachnophobes nightmare could be prevented if electron beams were used to get rid of insects on imported fruit.

Ensuring that there are no insects on fruit is an important regulatory step for many sellers, but one that can prove costly. This is set to change as a researcher has discovered a way to target the DNA of insects, break it up and kill them, without affecting the fruit itself, as this has different DNA.

This technique also has the added benefit of being more ’natural’ as it doesn’t involve the use of various chemicals and additives in order to kill any insects that may be on the fruit.

The presence of insects on fruit is not only a problem for people with a hatred of creepy crawlies but it can also pose a threat to the ecosystem as invasive species can cause issues for native species. This is as they can present new challenges to native species that they cannot adapt rapidly enough to.

This is why many counties have strict bans on the import of unregulated live matter, be it plant or animal.
Those with shares in the oil industry have seen their assets plunge in value this week, as a result of huge stockpiles of the fluid in the USA.

Last week, the Energy Information Administration revealed that American crude inventories unexpectedly reported 6.81 million additional oil barrels last week – news that has hit the overall market hard.

Following this, light, sweet crude oil for September delivery came in three per cent lower yesterday (August 15th) at the New York Mercantile Exchange. This took it to the lowest level since June 6th, finishing at $65.01 (£51.17), which is significantly lower than last month’s figure of $74.

Similarly, brent crude dropped by 2.3 per cent to $70.76 per barrel, a decline of $1.70 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for Price Futures Group, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: “The headline number along with the negativity in the overall market was taken as a very bearish number. We’re reacting to the shock value of the big build.”

In addition to this, investors have become concerned about a trade war between America and China, as well as financial problems in Turkey, as the value of its currency falls.

Its lira has dropped 40 per cent against the US dollar recently, which could end up having an impact worldwide. Not only has Indian currency fallen to 70 rupees to $1 following this, but the peso in Argentina and the rand from South Africa have also declined in value, reported.

The Turkish crisis could also have a ripple effect on oil prices, with many investors fearing there could be a contagion among emerging markets.

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