In the 1632 universe, helium is mentioned repeatedly as an alternative to hydrogen as a lift gas for airships. While providing slightly (7%) less lift, it has the advantages of being non-flammable and having about half the permeation rate of hydrogen (so it leaks out more slowly).

However, this is actually a minor use of helium. In 1996, the principal uses were cryogenics (24%), pressurizing and purging (20%), welding (18%), and controlled atmospheres (16%). That leaves 18%, which includes breathing mixtures, leak detection . . .

We're very sorry, but this content is only available to current subscribers.

Perhaps you just need to log in.  If you're already logged in, please check if your subscription has expired by looking here.

If you're not already a subscriber you need to know that our columns and editorials are free, along with a few other items, but almost all stories and all downloads are paid only.

If you want to read the entire gazette, you need to either subscribe here, or purchase a download of any single issue at the Baen Books e-book store  or at

- The Grantville Gazette Staff