Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Does (will) wind affect plasma (electical spark passing through a gap) in a way such as it affects fire?

My guess is no because it's like light, but still thought its worth asking.

Thanks

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, it definitely does. Otherwise, the Jacob's ladder wouldn't work: therein, an electric arc moves upwards. This is because it heats the air around it, which then expands, reducing its density, thus causing an upwards "wind" which pulls the electric arc with it.


I think that once it is plasma it can no longer be affected because at that time it turns into electromagnetic radiation in the form of light?

Well, no. As Jaime said, plasma is just ionised gas, but still gas. To put it on a particle level: it still consists of electrons and nuclei, i.e. of fermions, these cannot just vanish¹. Air consists of the same fermions, and fermions of the same kind repulse each other, which in this case means the plasma is pushed around by moving air.

In contrast, electromagnetic radiation / light consists of photons, which are bosons, not fermions.


¹Certainly not at such low energies – in an electric arc we can't have more than the few $\mathrm{keV}$s supplied by the electric voltage, which is far to low for serious elementary-particle reactions.

share|improve this answer
    
I don't think wind or anything physical can affect plasma directly. Only the air before it turns into plasma can be physically affected. I think that once it is plasma it can no longer be affected because at that time it turns into electromagnetic radiation in the form of light? –  SSpoke Oct 13 '12 at 2:01
2  
Plasma is an ionized gas, not electromagnetic radiation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_(physics) so it is affected by ordinary physical phenomena such as wind similarly to how any other gas would. –  Jaime Oct 13 '12 at 3:56
    
Jacobs ladder: io9.com/5881578/… "The electrons do look for the path of least resistance, but the path of least resistance is always where the plasma is. And the moving electrons heat the plasma around them. This ionized air is less dense than the surrounding air, and moves upwards. The electrons follow it, until at last the jump becomes too far for them, and the connection is lost. " –  anna v Oct 13 '12 at 4:39

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.