Alchemy Cache II: Lighter than Air
In Texas, United States
How Geocaching Works
Use of geocaching.com services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer
This is a virtual cache. You are looking for a six-story high stainless steel structure, which is a combination sundial and four sealed caches (although one has already been plundered). Take a short break or stay awhile and visit the adjacent museum.
This is the second in the Alchemy Cache series, examples of unusual and hopefully fun or interesting chemistry trivia.
The structure at these coordinates is the Helium Monument, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium on the sun in 1868. No, there was not a secret, pre-NASA probe to the sun in 1868. All of the features of the sun's spectrum (those little rainbows you see when sunlight goes through a prism) could be accounted for with known elements of the time except for one set, which could only be explained by assigning them to a new element. It was named helium after Helios, Greek god of the sun.
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but it is too light to stay in the earth's atmosphere. Essentially all helium on earth is isolated from natural gas, which can contain up to 7% helium. Most of the world's supply of helium is within 250 miles of Amarillo and as recently as 1990, 90% of the world's helium supply was produced in the Amarillo area, hence Amarillo's designation as "Helium Capital of the World".
Helium is used not only for birthday balloons and blimps, but is used in arc welding, is used to purge and pressurize rockets and spacecraft, and is used instead of nitrogen in the breathing mix used by deep sea divers to avoid the bends. Liquid helium (at -451F) is what makes superconducting magnets, like those used for MRI, possible.
The Helium Monument is really four time capsules (sealed caches?!). The first was opened after 25 years in 1993. The contents are on display in the adjacent museum. The other three will be opened after 50, 100, and 1000 years. Among the most interesting things in the capsules is the passbook in the 1000 year capsule to a bank account with a $10 deposit. It is projected to be worth $1 quadrillion when opened in 2968! That likely makes this the most valuable geocache on record, if you are willing to wait until 2968.
To claim this cache, email us the answers to each of these two questions:
1. When will the time capsule that points to the south be opened?
2. Who or what is the last entry on the list of members of the Helium Centennial Committee?
Feel free to log your visit once you have sent us the answers to the questions. It is not necessary to wait for a reply from us.
Good luck and have fun!!
If this virtual cache is preventing anyone from placing a traditional cache because of the geocaching.com rule of 0.1 miles between caches, please contact us and we will archive this cache.
For the other Alchemy caches see:
Alchemy Cache I: Soluble in Water, GC8EC0
Alchemy Cache III: Liquid Metal, GCHZ8D
TuristaJ was the first to find and log this cache and enters the
Alchemist2000 and Code Poet Ring of Honor!
gmurphy55 was the second to find and log this cache and enters the
Alchemist2000 and Code Poet Bridesmaids' Brigade!
[Question 1:] Fgnaq haqre gur ngbz naq snpr Qba Uneevatgba. Vg vf abj oruvaq lbh.
[Question 2:] Ortvaf jvgu J.
Last Updated: on 11/15/2015 2:20:13 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (10:20 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum