Introduction: The Helium Problem
The history of attempts to understand the behavior of helium at low temperatures has been full of surprises, and this factor, probably more than any other, has stimulated the continuous and accelerating growth of helium research since 1908 when Kamerlingh Onnes first liquefied He4. The liquefaction itself, occurring at the then incredibly low temperature of 4°K, was indeed a triumph and perhaps the first of the surprises, since at that time the idea of “persistent gases” was still prevalent—and helium was the last of these to undergo reduction to the liquid state. However, subsequent investigations of this apparently simple substance have uncovered an abundance of complexities and surprises which in turn have sustained a remarkably high interest in the subject.
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