Celebrating 100 “Moments of Science”

A Moment of Science

Moment of Science began over two years ago with a simple idea- explain how science is part of our everyday life with the help of others who are using it in unexpected ways right here in the Lowcountry.

And I’ve had a lot of help.

Archaeologists, astrophysicists, blacksmiths, brewers, farmers, chemists, chefs, divers… too many to name! I have and continue to rely on these experts in their fields to help bring science to your TVs every week. I can’t express how thankful I am for their help. And to those who have watched over these past 100 segments- thank you!

Your interest keeps “Moment of Science” going so here’s to many more! 

What would a celebration be without balloons, and what would a Moment of Science be without… well science?

And I have the perfect idea for this week’s topic: why does helium change your voice?


While the helium itself isn’t harmful, the lack of oxygen can cause you to get light headed or pass out. So maybe don’t try this at home. 

We’ve all tried this party trick for a laugh. This squeaky voice only lasts as long as helium stays in my lungs, a deep breath and it’s back to normal.

My voice, generated by vibrations of my vocal cords, is a mix of high and low frequencies. When I inhale helium, it amplifies the high frequencies- making them louder, while suppressing the low frequencies- creating this chipmunk effect.

This shift happens in my vocal tract because sound travels faster through a lighter gas, and slower in a more dense gas! We know what happens with helium, which is 6 times lighter than air, but what about a gas that is 6 times more dense? 

Instant villain voice made possible by sulfur hexafluoride. It’s a bit harder to get compared to helium and that’s probably a good thing as it is the most potent greenhouse gas on the planet. Find out more about greenhouse gases or nearly 100 other topics under the Moment of Science tab. If you have a science question or idea for a future segment- send me an email at ddickson2@wcbd.com

Storm Team 2 Meteorologist David Dickson

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