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Its boiling point is the lowest among all the elements.After hydrogen, helium is the second lightest and second most abundant element in the observable universe, being present at about 24% of the total elemental mass, which is more than 12 times the mass of all the heavier elements combined.In 1907, Ernest Rutherford and Thomas Royds demonstrated that alpha particles are helium nuclei by allowing the particles to penetrate the thin glass wall of an evacuated tube, then creating a discharge in the tube to study the spectra of the new gas inside.In 1908, helium was first liquefied by Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes by cooling the gas to less than one kelvin.As with any gas whose density differs from that of air, inhaling a small volume of helium temporarily changes the timbre and quality of the human voice.In scientific research, the behavior of the two fluid phases of helium-4 (helium I and helium II) is important to researchers studying quantum mechanics (in particular the property of superfluidity) and to those looking at the phenomena, such as superconductivity, produced in matter near absolute zero.He tried to solidify it by further reducing the temperature but failed because helium does not solidify at atmospheric pressure.

A well-known but minor use is as a lifting gas in balloons and airships.Large amounts of new helium are being created by nuclear fusion of hydrogen in stars.