This is a transcript of our episode “Helium vs Neon”

Listen to the episode: Website | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts

Announcer: From the brains behind Brains On, it’s Smash Boom Best.

Gitanjali: The show for people with big opinions.

Molly: Welcome to Smash Boom Best. I'm Molly Bloom and this is the show where we take two things, smash them together, and let you decide which is best. Today we're letting the science rip in a seriously gassy showdown. It's helium versus neon. One is famous for making balloons float and voices squeaky, the other is prized for its beautiful glow. Here to help us with this elemental argumentation is Gitanjali Rao. Hi, Gitanjali.

Gitanjali: Hi, Molly.

Molly: Gitanjali was recently named Times' first-ever kid of the year. Congratulations, Gitanjali.

Gitanjali: Oh, yeah! Thank you so much for having me. This is so exciting.

Molly: Gitanjali, you are no stranger to science. You won a big contest for young scientists, can you tell us a little bit about your work?

Gitanjali: Yeah, absolutely. So, I am a very passionate inventor and STEM promoter, as I like to say. So, I like to use science and technology as a catalyst for social change and some of my work has garnered recognition with lead in drinking water, detection of prescription opiate addiction, and recently a service to detect cyberbullying. And now, I've really expanded my work to global outreach, helping other teenagers become STEM innovators and promoters themselves.

Molly: That is super cool. So what-- Are there any cool things are working on right now, like inventions?

Gitanjali: Currently, I'm obviously always innovating and coming up with ideas, but one of my favorite things that I've been working on is a way to detect parasites in water that might be harmful for especially children. So, yeah! Stay updated to learn more about my work.

Molly: I'm so glad you're here today to judge this debate. Do you have any advice for our debaters before we get started about how they can win you over?

Gitanjali: Don't hold back! Go off, tell me all of your opinions. I'm really, really excited for today.

Molly: Awesome. Before we get started, we're just going to have a little quick science lesson. Hit it.

Presenter: It's time for Smash Boom Science. Today's lesson: Elements. Helium and neon are elements. Elements are really simple substances. You can't break them down into anything but themselves. They're the building blocks of everything around us. For example, water is called H2O, because it's made of two elements. Hydrogen. That’s the H. And oxygen. That’s the O.

Other examples of elements are gold, potassium, and iron. Neon and helium are special elements because they're part of a group called the noble gases. Noble gases don't combine easily with other atoms. They like to hang out by themselves. A bit snobby if you asked me. Still, they have lots of uses as you will soon find out. Back to you, Molly.

Molly: All right. Now to meet our debaters bringing the shine for neon. It's Sanden Totten. Hi, Sanden.

Sanden Totten: Blink, blink. Turning on for neon.

Molly: In one sentence, why should neon win this?

Sanden: Okay, it's a gas that's not just science, it's an art.

Molly: Next up, keeping things light with helium it's Kasha Patel. Hi, Kasha.

Kasha: Woo! Yeah! Go helium!

Molly: Kasha, why is helium the ultimate element?

Kasha: Helium is light on its feet, but the most useful element on the street.

Molly: A rhyme to kick it off, I'm very happy. Those are some big words for tiny elements. Before we start, let's recap the round. First, it's the Declaration of Greatness. Both sides hit hard with history, humor, passion, and facts. Then their opponent gets 30 seconds to respond in a rebuttal. Round two, the Micro Round. That's a creative challenge both sides prepare for in advance. Round three is the Sneak Attack. Our debaters have no idea what challenge they'll face. It takes quick wits to win this one. And lastly, the Final Six. Both sides get six more words to make their case. Debaters are you ready?

Sanden: Oh, yeah.

Kasha: Yeah!

Sanden: Totally ready.

Molly: Gitanjali, are you ready?

Gitanjali: I am so ready.

Molly: Great. Then it's time for the Declaration of Greatness. We flipped a coin and Sanden, you're up first. Wow us now with your neon knowledge.

Sanden: Okay. I want to start with a meditation. Take a deep breath. (inhale) Let it out slowly. Let it out slowly. Notice how good it feels to let it go.

Okay, inhale once more. Imagine that air, swirling inside you, giving you life and finally let it out. Picture that breath you released as a chain of molecules connecting your lungs to the entire atmosphere of Earth.


In your ohm zone? Great. Now get this. You were just breathing…neon! Our air is a mix of gases. Mostly nitrogen and oxygen, but also small amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, and yep—the raddest element of all time—neon. There’s a tiny amount of helium in there too, but hey, nothing’s perfect. Neon was actually discovered by studying our air. Can I get like a flashback sound, right here? Like harps or something…(harps or something) Ah, perfect.


(chamber music)


In ye olden times of 1898, back before most people had TVs or radios or those lollipops with gum inside them, there were two smarty pants British types named Sir William Ramsey and Morris Travers. They were looking to discover new gasses and I’m pretty sure they said something like:

Ramsey: Say old chap! I bet there’s some new elements hiding in the very air we breathe and what not! What say you we investigate?


Travers: Perfect! Let’s stop chewing the rag and hop to it!


Ramsey: Tally ho old chum! Time to science!


And science they did. They’d chill the air until it was liquid, then slowly warm it up and capture the gases that evaporated off. Sometimes they’d study the gases by putting them in a tube and running electricity through it. When they did that for one of the gases, something amazing happened.


(hum of a neon light)


Travers: O... M... Jeepers!


Ramsey: Would you look at that resplendent red glow!


They called it, neon after the Greek word for new. Travers said it’s “a sight to dwell upon and never forget.” Unlike helium which is, let’s be honest, more forgettable than where you left your keys.


Eventually, people figured to use this in neon signs. They’d heat up glass tubes and bend them to make shapes and letters. Then, they’d attach electrodes at both ends of the tube and fill it with neon gas. When they turned the electrodes on, it would excite the neon atoms and the electrons on those atoms would break free, flying around the tube-like kids who just ate way too much sugar. When the electrons finally settled down, they’d release that extra energy in the form of light. 

All this in a fraction of a second.


The first neon sign went up in Paris in 1912. Obviously, it was a total hit and more signs quickly followed. The first ones in the U.S. were in California, and they were so popular, legend has it they drew crowds and caused traffic jams!


People started making other colors using different gases. Like xenon for blue and krypton for white. Even though these tubes didn’t have neon in them, they still kept the name because neon started it all. And boy did it catch on.


Emily: I think it gives a certain type of glow, that really other lights really can’t give off.


That’s Emily Fellmer - she’s a collections specialist at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas! A museum dedicated to neon signs! Emily says neon was perfect for America’s booming car culture because you could easily see it from a speeding vehicle.


Emily: If you think of a sign that has a lot of light bulbs put together, from far away, it kind of just looks like a blob. But, neon really has a crisp look to it.


And neon lights are super energy efficient, lasting over 15 years and using less energy than incandescent bulbs and fluorescent bulbs! Take that other-things-I’m-not-debating-but-still-aren’t-as-good-as-neon!

But neon is more than just a pretty face. It’s also used in devices that protect our electrical grid from lightning. Liquid neon is super cold and is used to refrigerate things. And neon might even unlock the secrets of our solar system.


You see, we can’t go back in time, so we’ll never get to see how our sun and planets formed. But we can use telescopes to find other solar systems that are still forming. And it turns out, one of the best ways to do that is to look for neon, since it’s often around as solar systems grow. Using special telescopes we can take snapshots of that neon and get a sense of how that young star and new planets are developing. It’s like getting baby pictures of a solar system. And with enough of these pictures, we can get a better sense of what our solar system looked like back in its diaper days.


A gas that’s pretty AND pretty useful? That’s neon. Because when it comes to being awesome—neon shines.


Molly: Truly brilliant work, Sanden. Gitanjali you've heard the case for neon. What stood out to you about Sanden's argument.

Gitanjali: I think it was an awesome argument. The biggest thing that I really loved is how these special telescopes help us find neon at the solar systems baby stage. I think there's so much you can do with the developments in the solar system as a whole and I think that it's so cool that neon plays a big role in that.

Molly: Kasha, I know you have some counterpoints to take the shine off of Sanden's arguments. You have 30 seconds to respond and your time starts now.

Kasha: Neon is not that great. The biggest thing they had to say about neon was that it makes signs? I mean, if the biggest thing that you can say that neon does is actually put up bright lights, that's not very good because he even said that other elements do the same exact thing. Neon isn't even that special when it comes to the one thing it's known for which is signs. As far as looking into the birth of our galaxy, helium was there all along. Helium--

Molly: And time.


Kasha: You'll hear more in my Declaration of Greatness, but helium is way better at the beginnings of our galaxy than Neon is.

Sanden: I'm sure. Keep telling yourself that, Helium.

Molly: Okay, you two. Kasha, we're going to hear a lot about helium right now it's time for your Declaration of Greatness.


Kasha: Do you know why your birthday balloons float in the air? Or why rocket ships don’t overheat and blow up when they go to space? Or why we have high-speed internet? It’s because of helium!

Helium: Hi, I’m Helium. You may recognize me from your 5th birthday party or from the Pixar Movie UP. I was the one making balloons fly!

You’re probably wondering, what’s so important about helium? After all, it is the second smallest element. It’s puny.

Helium: Well, that’s rude.

I mean it’s not like oxygen, which helps us breathe. Or carbon, which is the backbone to life on Earth. Or Einsteinium, which is a fun element to say. Say it with me. Einsteinium! Why should you care about helium?

Helium: An element is an element, no matter how small.

Helium affects your life more than you know. It has special chemical properties that allow it to do jobs that no other element can. Not even neon. Helium plays an important role in the medical field, space travel, our computers, and so much more!

Before we dive into why helium is cool, let’s go back to a time when we didn’t even know what helium was.

About 150 years ago, two astronomers were studying the Sun to learn what elements it was made of. But they each noticed something unusual in the data—a bright yellow line that didn’t match with any known element at that time. 

It was the first and only element discovered outside of earth. Our first alien element was helium!

Helium: I come in peace!

It was named helium—derived from the Greek word helios, which means “sun.” About a dozen years later a physicist noticed the same signal while analyzing lava from Mount Vesuvius. Turns out the alien wasn’t so alien after all. It was here on Earth too!

Today, we know that helium is the second most abundant element in the universe. Most of that helium was created from the Big Bang, the explosion that put together atoms to start our universe.

On Earth though, helium is one of the rarest elements. Helium only accounts for 0.00052% of Earth’s atmosphere, which is rarer than neon. That’s like having 36 packs of M&Ms and only finding ONE yellow M&M. We actually get the majority of our helium by digging underground. People extract it from minerals or natural gas. 

Helium belongs to a special group of elements called noble gases. Noble gases are the most stable kinds of elements, which means they don’t react with anything. They are sassy, independent, and don’t need anything from anyone.

Hey, Helium. Want an electron?

Helium: No, thank you. I’m all I need.

There are seven noble gases, including neon. But helium is different from the others because it is the lightest. In fact, it is the second lightest element in the universe. It’s lighter than air, which is why your helium-filled balloons float. It’s so light that is also constantly escaping into space, which explains why there is so little of it in Earth’s atmosphere.

Helium: Bye, Earth!

Because it is so light, we use it in a lot of different ways. Helium is used in airbags in cars because it can diffuse and inflate the bag quicker than other gases.

In the medical field, researchers have proposed helium and oxygen mixtures could treat people with breathing issues, like asthma or bronchitis. Researchers are even looking into this treatment to help people with COVID-19 that have trouble breathing. Other noble gases, like neon, could not do that because they’re just too heavy.

Helium: I’m lighter than a feather!

Helium is also excellent at keeping technology from overheating. When it’s in its liquid form, it is one of the coldest substances in existence—measuring around -269C. Think of it like a really cold ice pack. Engineers use helium to cool computers and for creating fiber optic cables—the cables that allow you to have high-speed internet and watch Netflix.

They also help out with cool really BIG technology like the Apollo rockets soaring to the moon, a MRI machine, which is like an x-ray machine for your brain, and even the Large Hadron Collider, an instrument that has led physicists to win Nobel prizes.

Physicist: Thank you for this Nobel Prize. I would like to thank the academy, my family, and helium.

Helium: Aw, shucks.

There may not be a lot of helium on Earth, but there are countless uses for this lightweight stable element. Every day, we’re finding more uses too. Scientists estimate though that we might face a helium shortage on Earth in upcoming decades, and they’ve already started brainstorming ideas of how to get more. One idea is to go to the moon and dig for helium underground. And how are we going to go to the moon, you might ask? Well, by using helium in our rockets.

Helium: Weee!

Molly: Totally uplifting arguments there. Gitanjali, what had the most impact on you?

Gitanjali: I've got to say, Molly, Kasha's declaration is really pulling me over to the other side.

Sanden: Ouch.

Gitanjali: Balloons make me super happy, but I think the biggest thing was the mixture of helium and oxygen to help with lung diseases and chronic diseases in your lungs, which I think is so cool.

Sanden: You know what uplifts the spirit? A cool neon light.

Molly: Sanden, I have a feeling you have some thoughts to share. You have 30 seconds to make your rebuttal and your time starts now.

Sanden: Okay, let me pop some of those balloons that Kasha floated my way. First of all, helium really brings out some terrible tendencies in people. Like, people you know, inhale it sometimes to make their voice sound high, but there have been documented cases of people passing out or even getting injured from doing that. Not a smart move. Helium makes that happen. Also, you mentioned Nobel Prize as well. Nobel Laureate Robert Coleman Richardson says that our usage of helium is so wasteful, the prices are low so we use it for things like balloons when it's got these other jobs. And helium mining is actually an environmental concern.

Molly: And time.

Kasha: Can I have a rebuttal to his rebuttal?

Sanden: No!

Kasha: There's not a lot of helium that goes into our balloons. The majority of it does go to other uses.

Molly: All right, Gitanjali, you've heard the Declarations of Greatness. You've heard the rebuttals. Now you get the tough job of awarding points. Remember, you're going to award one for the best declaration and another point for the best rebuttal. Listeners at home mark your points as well, hit "pause" if you want to talk it over with a friend. So Gitanjali, have you made up your mind.

Gitanjali: I have, but it was a hard decision.

Kasha: I would just like to say that I'm pretty sure Sanden said everything there is to say about neon in his declaration of greatness, but mine I had to cut so many things that for you listeners at home and Gitanjali if you google more you're going to learn so much about helium.

Sanden: Here's the thing helium is just like an overachiever, but why is it running out on earth?

Kasha: What's wrong with overachievers?

Sanden: It's like abundant in the universe and rare on Earth, how annoying is that? It's just basically-- It just can't stay on the planet, it floats away, that's just obnoxious. If you want to be useful, be here for us. Be here when we need you and stop running away helium.

Kasha: I just want to say, you said helium is like an overachiever, did you listen to Gitanjali's resume? I'm not even sure college graduates have that good of a resume, so you saying helium is an overachiever is a bad thing is not going to score you any points.

Molly: Okay. Kasha and Sanden, are you guys hanging in there?

Kasha: It's heating up.

Sanden: I'm ready to glow.

Molly: Save that energy because we're going to take a short break.

Gitanjali: We'll be right back with more Smash Boom Best after this.


TAYLOR: Taylor Lincoln here, with 877-time debate champ, Todd Douglas.


TODD: Howdy-doody, debate-heads. We’ve got a special guest with us today! Please say hello to Marvin the Mouse!


MARVIN: Hello. I’m Marvin the Mouse. 


TAYLOR: Marvin is here to practice his debate skills!




TODD: And he wants to learn to avoid logical fallacies. 


MARVIN: I do. 


TAYLOR: As a reminder, logical fallacies are debate mistakes that make it super easy for your opponents to poke holes in your argument. 


TODD: And Marvin has a tendency to use a fallacy called the “slippery slope.” It’s when you claim a teeny-tiny action will lead to a really huge, terrible result! 


MARVIN: It’s just so easy to get caught up in catastrophic thinking!


TAYLOR: Let’s hear one of Marvin’s slippery slope fallacies in action! Roll tape!

KATE THE MOUSE: (whispered) Look, Marv. That piece of cake is super easy access. If we work together, we could get that whole thing off the plate and into our hole.


MARVIN THE MOUSE: Are you kidding! If you eat that cake we’re going to get hooked on sugar. Once you’ve finished that piece, you’ll just eat another and another and another! Until you’re running around the house in broad daylight trying to break into the sugary cereal boxes! Then a human will catch you, if a cat doesn’t catch you first, and you’ll get bitten to death, or crushed with a shoe! If you don’t die from your sugar addiction first!


TODD: That’s one big, bad slippery slope fallacy right there! 


TAYLOR: But you’ve crafted such a nice new argument, Marvin. Are you willing to share it with us?


MARVIN: Alright, here goes.


KATE: …If we work together, we could get that whole thing off the plate and into our hole.


MARVIN (clears throat): Ah… Kate? I ah… I think we should hold off on going for that cake. And here’s WHY. It looks very sugary, and we’ve been eating a lot of sugar recently. It’s not healthy to only eat sugar. So even though it is easy access, why don’t we grab those morsels of cheese by the refrigerator? They’ll keep us full longer than sugar will. 


TODD: (cheers!) Woooooo! Go Marv!


TAYLOR: You made great strides today, Marv. Here’s an honorary State of Debate badge!


MARVIN: Oh wow, you guys. You shouldn’t have! Gosh! 


TAYLOR: If you guys are looking for ways to improve your debate skills, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to have you on the show! 


TODD: And until then, catch all the greatest debate tips, no-nos, strategies and analyses on...




Molly: Welcome back to Smash Boom Best.

Gitanjali: The show about showdowns.

Molly: I'm Molly.

Gitanjali: I'm Gitanjali.

Molly: And this is an awesome debate idea sent in by Gus in San Francisco.

Gus: My debate idea is wooly mammoth versus saber-toothed tiger.

Molly: We’ll hear who Gus thinks should win that matchup at the end of the show.

Gitanjali: If you have an epic debate idea, send it to us by going to

Molly: Now, back to our clash of the chemicals, neon versus helium. We're ready for the second act the Micro Round. For this one, we asked both debaters to make an infomercial shilling for their side. So, an infomercial is basically a longer commercial that is trying to sell you something and want you to call in and buy it at the end. They show you all of the amazing, wonderful things this product can do.

Kasha: It's like a YouTube commercial that you can't skip.

Molly: So Kasha, you are up first this time. Operators are standing by, so sell us on helium.

Kasha: Are you looking for an element that will send you to the moon and back? One that has unlimited practical uses? 

Today, we’re selling helium by the gallon! It won’t add a lot of pounds in your suitcase because, well, it’s the second lightest element in the universe! 

And now, for a limited time, we’ll also throw in superfluid helium. You may know liquid helium is one of the coldest substances in existence. But if you cool it even more, the liquid enters a new superfluid state that defies the laws of physics! Let me show you. 

Okay, imagine that I am pouring liquid into a cup. Right now, liquid helium is swirling in this cup. If this were a regular liquid, it would eventually stop. But this is superfluid helium and it will never stop swirling. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. Freaky, right? If you are an aspiring physicist or just like weird stuff, superfluid helium is perfect for you to study. You could even win a Nobel prize for helping scientists understand what’s going on!

And if you really just want a fun light sign like the neon salesman has over there, don’t worry. Helium glows light orange and is also used in lighted signs, which I’m also selling. 

Buy now while supplies last! Worldwide helium stocks are expected to decline, so prices will go up, up, up! Grab your helium before the rush!


Molly: What a deal. We’re gonna flip the channel now to see what neon has to offer. Sanden, give us your pitch.


Sanden: Has this ever happened to you?


Bully 1: Hey dweeb - your sign is boring!

Bully 2: Yeah - and your choice of font is uninspiring!


Well, now you can solve that problem with a gas that’s also a total gas! It’s…


Chorus: NEON!

Hi, I’m famous TV personality Chip Handsomeguy. You might know me from game shows like “You Yelled the Answer First” and “Who’s Fart Was That?!” I’m here to tell you about neon.


Chorus: NEON!


Simply make glass tubes in any shape you want, add this amazing gas and a zap of electricity and, voila, your sign will go from blah to ahhh-mazing!


Bully 1: Wow! What an eye-catching sign!

Crowd: Oooh!

Bully 2: That neon really creates a nostalgic experience of true Americana. You’re alright!


Plus, unlike helium, neon won’t run out on you. That’s because helium is so light it basically floats away and leaves our atmosphere. Neon sticks around, so whenever it escapes, it just waits in the air for someone to pull it back out and use it again! It’s a renewable resource!


Chorus: NEON!


Act now and we’ll throw in a back scratcher for some reason. So buy now! And don’t be left in the dark.


Molly: Another great bargain. Gitanjali, you have one point this round. Which one do you buy? Award a point, to that side.

Kasha: I would just like to say, that infomercial was a lot like neon. Flashy, and not a lot of good substance.

Sanden: You just keep ragging on the signs and the flash of neon, but that really is what America was built on.

Molly: Alright, Gitanjali, have you awarded a point for this Micro Round?

Gitanjali: I have.

Molly: Excellent. Well debaters, it's time for the Sneak Attack. For this round, we want you to imagine, what kind of band would represent your side. Tell us the name of the band, describe the style of music they play, about how many members are in it, and what their aesthetic is. If you want to sing a short sample of one of your tunes, we would welcome that. We'll give you a few minutes to prepare, and while we wait we'll listen to this lovely hold music.


Molly: Sanden and Kasha, are you ready?

Sanden: Oh yes, ready to kick out the jams.

Molly: Fantastic. Kasha went first last time, so Sanden, you're up. Let's hear about team neon's musical mascots.

Sanden: The stage is dark, and then a spotlight opens. It's Elemetal. They're an 80's hair metal band, and they've got a big neon sign behind them. There's flashy lights, there's smoke coming out. They've got their big poofy hair-do's and their tight, tight jeans. It's just a good time but hey, what a good time is had. You'll hear hits like, "You Glow, Girl," and, "Shine On," and the classic, "You Can Always Lean on Neon." (singing) When the world's got you down, there's a gas that's always around. Brighting days and making you smile. Neon gas goes the extra mile. You can lean on neon. Yeah, yeah! That's my band.

Molly: Incredible, I can picture that music video. All right, Kasha, your turn. Let's hear about the rocky maestros representing team helium.

Kasha: Yeah, I can tell you that helium does not need to be that flashy to get their appreciation across. Helium is actually going to be inspired by Bob Marley, who is a very chill composer. His music is about love and bringing people together and it's very relaxing. All we need is Bob Marley because that's all you really need when you have a great singer like him, and the big hit song is called "One Helium." It's a playoff of his other song, it goes (singing) "One helium, two protons, let's get together and make the internet work" and that's helium.

Molly: What is the name of your band?

Kasha: It's called Helium Marley.

Molly: Is Bob Marley in the band?

Kasha: It's Bob Marley inspired, and we have a hologram of Bob Marley that will actually be there in the back, so it’s a little bit of both. Inspired and we include him as much as we can.

Molly: Alright, the hologram Bob Marley, representing for team helium.

Sanden: Can you even get the rights to that? I don't know. This idea seems a little light on details.

Molly: All right, Gitanjali, it's time for you to award a point.

Gitanjali: I do, I have it awarded.

Molly: Excellent, and now the last chance for our debaters to score. It's time for the Final Six. Kasha, you have just six words left to hype up helium, let's hear it.

Kasha: Light and small, but very mighty.

Molly: Excellent work. Sanden, it's your turn. Let's hear your final six.

Sanden: Its lights bring cheer, joy, bliss.

Molly: Lovely. It's been an epic battle of the elements. Gitanjali, time to give out a final point for that Final Six round.

Gitanjali: The final point has been given.

Molly: Alright now, add up your points for both sides. Listeners at home, time for you to do the same. Okay, Gitanjali are you ready to declare a winner?

Gitanjali: Yep, the points are added up.

Molly: Alright. Tell us, who is the Smash Boom Best?

Gitanjali: The Smash Boom Best is Kasha with helium!

Kasha: Wooo! Give me a neon sign that says "Winner."

Molly: It was an excellent showing.

Kasha: You know, Sanden, you did a very good job. Neon was a very difficult element because it is very, very pretty and the amount of art that we make from neon is really, really cool and I'm looking forward to all the new uses we're going to find for neon, and I really appreciated you bringing out the artistic side of chemistry.

Sanden: Like here's the thing, I know in my heart neon's a tough one to defend, helium has a lot of uses, it's great, but also I know you're going to go walk by some business that has a cool neon sign on a cold chilly day, and you'll just look at it, and it'll warm you and so that's a little victory for neon. Besides, the two of them work really well together in helium-neon lasers. If you combine them and they can make lasers that feels like a win for everybody.

Kasha: Also, I would want to be at a birthday party with helium balloons and neon signs.

Sanden: Oh then come to my birthday. You're invited, I'll send you an invite.

Gitanjali: I think the really exciting thing about helium is the amazing amount of uses it has, and not only in aesthetic appeal, and as Kasha said, it could be used in other art, but I think it also had so many uses in the medical world, in the space world, and other future applications, just for the future of technology as a whole. I'm really excited to see where helium continues to go and how it continues to become an even better element.

Molly: Very cool. You really got your inventor brain working, I can hear that.

Gitanjali: I know, I did.

Molly: Gitanjali crowned helium the Smash Boom Best today, but who do you think won?

Gitanjali: It's cool if you disagree, no one can make up your mind for you. If you want to vote, just head to our website, and let us know your pick.

Molly: That's it for this one. Smash Boom Best is brought to you by Brains On! and American Public Media.

Kasha: It's produced by Molly Bloom, Rosie DuPont, Mark Sanchez, Sanden Totten, and Jennifer Lai.

Sanden: We had engineering help from, Veronica Rodriguez, and Corey Schreppel.

Gitanjali: We had production help from Alyssa Dudley, Kristina Lopez, and Menaka Wilhelm.

Molly: Anna Weggel is the voice of our hold music, and our announcer is Marley Feuerwerker-Otto. We want to give a special thanks to Austin Cross, Taylor Coffman, and Stuart Bloom. Kasha, is there anyone you want to give a shout out to today?

Kasha: I want to say thank you to Gitanjali. I mean, honestly, everything you're doing is really, really impressive. I wish I was doing as many things as you are doing when I was in 10th Grade and I'm really excited to see where your career leads you.

Gitanjali: Thank you, thanks for having me.

Molly: How about you Sanden, anyone you want to thank today?

Sanden: I got a couple of people I want to shout out, who helped with my neon research. Mark Benvenuto, Emily Felmer, and Corey Segal, all gave me some tips about neon.

Molly: Gitanjali, anyone you want to shout out today?

Gitanjali: Always my parents for helping me out with figuring out how I'm going to moderate this, and thank you to everyone on this team.

Molly: Awesome, and before we sign off, let's hear form Gus, he suggested a woolly mammoth vs saber-toothed tiger match-up. Here's who he thinks would win.

Gus: I think saber-toothed tigers would win because they can hunt woolly mammoths.

Molly: Thanks, Gus. And if you've dreamed up the best debate idea ever, we want to hear about it. You can share your ideas, or just say hi at We love hearing from you. We'll be back soon with another debate battle. See you.

Kasha: Float on!

Sanden: It's been a gas.


Sanden: I don't know why you're dissing signs so much, they're so elegant, they capture the attention, I mean, helium balloons they just go flying off and get caught in telephone wires, you know, that's not really-- catches the wrong kind of attention, if you know what I mean.