U.S. Business: Out of Thin Air

The only U.S. industry that creates its products out of thin air is the $1 billion-a-year industrial gas business, which is becoming as expansive as the exotic gases that are making it prosper. By compressing air until it liquefies, the industry extracts various gases whose temperatures are close to absolute zero ( — 460° F.). It has thus created a spectrum of uses for rare gases whose inertness, heavy atomic weights and unique electrical properties make them invaluable servants: argon for welding, krypton for long-lasting light bulbs, and xenon for high-intensity lights such...

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