Helium naturally occurs in a gaseous state. It is the only element whose liquid state cannot be solidified by reducing its temperature. It retains its liquid state until absolute zero and can only be solidified by increasing the pressure.
Helium is tasteless, colorless, odorless gas. Its atom consists of two electrons, two neutrons and two protons. It has the smallest atomic radius, lowest melting and boiling points and the second lowest atomic weight of all elements. Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, making up roughly 24 percent of its total mass.
The earth's atmosphere only has a small amount of helium because it is too light for earth's gravity to hold it. Commercially produced helium is obtained from the ground. The gas is extracted from natural gas fields. Helium is removed as a byproduct after the natural gas has been processed.
Due to its diverse properties, helium has several uses. It is commonly used as a cooling agent for NMR spectrometers and the conducting magnets in MRI machines. Its light and inert nature makes it the most ideal gas for filling up decorative balloons, blimps and airships. Helium is also used to create a protective atmosphere for manufacturing semiconductors and fiber optics and for welding.