Theory, experiments and calculations related the physics of plasmas, i.e., matter constituted by ionized atoms.

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Is fire plasma?

Is Fire a Plasma? If not, what is it then? If yes why, don't we teach kids this basic example? UPDATE: I probably meant a regular commonplace fire of the usual temperature. That should simplify ...
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6answers
2k views

Why does only one side of a neon lamp glow?

When applying DC to a neon lamp, only the negatively-charged electrode glows: The voltages across the lamps are left: DC (left lead positive), middle: DC (right lead positive), and right: AC. ...
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5answers
2k views

Why do we deal only with large scale magnetic fields in astrophysics, and not electric fields?

In astrophysics there is a lot going on about strong, large scale magnetic fields: in stars (prominences), magnetic dynamos, compact accretors collimating jets, etc. There's even a special ...
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4answers
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How can a star emit light if it is in Plasma state?

I understand that star is in Plasma state (all nucleus and electrons are not bound to each other and moving around freely) Photon is emitted when an excited electron moves back to lower orbit. So in ...
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3answers
6k views

Does Fire Conduct Electricity? Why?

Recently, I have stumbled upon a YouTube video by Veritasium describing the conductivity of fire. My question is: how exactly does fire conduct electricity? I am a high school student; therefore ...
13
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3answers
372 views

Why were space physicists wrong about the location of the heliopause?

The heliopause is now estimated to be something around 100 AU (1 AU = Astronomical unit = about the earth sun distance). See the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliosphere From ...
12
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2answers
562 views

How large can you make a tokamak?

I've seen questions on how small you can make a tokamak. But I haven't yet seen any "physical" upper limit on the tokamak design. If you take a wind turbine for example, doubling the linear ...
12
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3answers
15k views

What's the difference between gas and plasma?

A friend stated that stars are hot balls of gas, however we know that technically stars are plasma. Is his statement entirely incorrect? Can a plasma be considered a form of gas or should be referred ...
11
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4answers
630 views

Is solar wind positively charged?

Many times I heared that the solar wind consists of protons and alpha particles. The both are positively charged, but are there electrons in solar wind?
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286 views

How does the sun's surface conduct thermal energy from the convective zone to the corona?

How does the surface of the photosphere conduct thermal energy from the convective zone to the corona, while remaining at such a relatively low temperature itself? It seems odd to me that the ...
9
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1answer
852 views

Would an octahedral magnet work as a magnetic bottle?

First, let me see if I understand all this: Charged particles are curved by magnetic fields, so if the magnetic field is strong enough, the particles "follow" the magnetic field lines, in N or S ...
8
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1answer
538 views

Camp Fire Crackle

I was sitting around the camp fire and there was a periodic sound of cracking and pieces of the burning wood flew off. My question is what is the mechanism for the cracking of the wood? I was thinking ...
8
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1answer
378 views

Why does the majority of smoke leave when flames appear?

When I burn wood, paper, or other plant matter, where there is a flame, there generally isn't too much smoke, but it I blow the fire out, smoke starts billowing up. It billows thicker and thicker as ...
8
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2answers
9k views

What causes fluorescent light bulb to light up when it is near a plasma globe? Can this phenomenon be used to generate electricity in a circuit?

When a fluorescent light bulb is placed near a plasma globe, despite the fact there isn't a closed circuit, a part of the light blulb would light up. I tried measuring the voltage of the air ...
8
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1answer
79 views

Voyager 1 cosmic ray strips

In the last months Voyager 1 has experienced a dramatic drop in the cosmic ray radiation, which was been exceptionally uniform for the last 10 years, except for the past july 28 and august 14 events, ...
8
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0answers
280 views

Who invented the term “Coulomb logarithm”?

Who is the author of the term "Coulomb logarithm"? In fact, Coulomb logarithm was computed by Langmuir in his paper of 1928 where the term "plasma" was introduced into physics, but the term "Coulomb ...
7
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4answers
710 views

Conserved quantities and total derivatives?

I am having a bit of a crisis in understanding of the physical meanings of total derivatives. When a quantity $\rho$ (be it a vector or a scalar) is said to be conserved, then (mathematically) ...
7
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3answers
784 views

Is a plasma necessarily made of monoatomic ions?

Is it possible to have a plasma made of polyatomic ions instead of monoatomic ions? I want to know all the details why such a thing may be attainable or not and, if possible, what methods we can use ...
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6answers
12k views

Where on Earth can you find plasma?

Ok, so not that 'where on earth', like literally - 'Where on Earth'. Where on Earth, can you find matter in the 4th state, i.e. the plasma state?
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209 views

Jupiter radiation belt: where >MeV particles comes from?

When I read some discussion about exploration of Jupiter moons, or possibility of life there, a common argument is high dose of radiation in Jupiter's radiation belt (several orders of magnitude ...
6
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2answers
6k views

How hot can plasma get?

I remember reading about an experiment where fine rods of tungsten were super-heated with millions of amps of electricity, melting them into ionised gas and were then compressed (by magnetic fields?) ...
6
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1answer
1k views

How to tell theoretically whether an electron behaves as wave or particle

I have seen many questions on SE on the dual nature of electrons behaving in certain circumstances as particles and as waves in some other circumstance. There is one thing I couldn't get a clear ...
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3answers
2k views

Is there a phase transition between a gas and plasma?

Does a phase transition occur as a gas is heated to create a plasma? If so, is this a first or second order phase transition? Also, does the presence of a phase transition depend on the pressure or ...
6
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1answer
117 views

Astronomical-wavelength radio (AWR) transmissions between cosmic plasmas?

My son asked me if electromagnetic waves longer than radio exist. I told him that even though physics permits such waves, there are no antennas long enough to radiate or detect them. However, on ...
5
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2answers
584 views

Why doesn't a neon sign seem that hot?

I heard that neon signs contain plasma, why aren't they hot? is it because the electrons and ions do not hit the lamp's wall? Is it because it is non thermal plasma and electrons and ions are not in ...
5
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4answers
340 views

what is the basic form of the 'fire'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is fire matter or energy? What is the basic form of fire? physics defines every entity by a basic form either solid or liquid or as a gas, example: water is liquid, ice ...
5
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3answers
366 views

Tokamaks and the reason they are still not efficient

I'm curious about why tokamaks are inefficient as generators. In laymans terms, what is the main reason(s) tokamaks still cannot be used as generators? My limited understanding of tokamaks tells me ...
5
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1answer
339 views

What causes the structure visible in first few milliseconds of a nuclear explosion?

Following on from this question, here is a high-speed photograph of a nuclear explosion, taken about 1 ms after detonation: (source) As anna v pointed out, several similar images can be seen in a ...
5
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1answer
722 views

What's the relationship between glow and arc discharge?

I'm trying to understand the differences between an arc and glow discharge. Most texts I have found on the Internet only describes the observed differences but doesn't really explain what happens on ...
5
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1answer
327 views

What is the mathematics behind artificially generated plasmas via electric fields?

The ionization degree of a plasma is given by the Saha equation, which depends on the temperature and the particle specific ionization energy. In thermal equilibrium, the relation between ionization ...
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0answers
33 views

What happens to Hydrogen-Boron plasma at 3 billion Kelvin?

A recent popular report states (beware, I believe it is not peer reviewed and this slightly smells like a PR stunt) that a private company TriAlpha has made some notable progress towards ...
5
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1answer
153 views

Integrating Factor Solution for Plasma Wave Equation

As part of a derivation in Bernstein '58 [1] a linear first-order (eqn. (9) in the image) appears: But the general solution I would usually take (as appears in Gradshteyn and Ryzhik and checked in ...
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5answers
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Can Plasma Ignite?

This question on Scifi.se: Why does warp plasma burn green? mentions a fictional type of plasma called 'Warp Plasma' that is capable of igniting and when it does it sprays plasma flames/gas out of ...
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4answers
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Transverse Magnetic (TM) and Transverse Electric (TE) modes

I'm reading and working my way through "Plasmonics Fundamentals" by Stefan Maier and I've come across a step in the workings that I'm struggling to understand when working out the electromagnetic ...
4
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2answers
95 views

Is magnetic reconnection reconcilable with magnetic field lines neither starting nor ending?

According to Maxwell's equations, magnetic fields are divergence-free: $\nabla \cdot \mathbf{B} = 0$. If I understand this correctly, this means that magnetic field lines do not start or end. How can ...
4
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1answer
6k views

How to debunk 'The Electric Universe'? [closed]

My father is a generally intelligent person, however he has latched onto a theory which I believe to be completely incorrect. He doesn't believe in gravity, but rather subscribes to an 'Electrical ...
4
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2answers
782 views

Will ideal gas law apply to plasma?

I have read that plasma is a state of matter that resembles gas but it consists of ions and electrons coexisting. So my question is : If plasma is just ionized gas, will ideal gas law apply for it ?
4
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2answers
135 views

What causes the electrical reaction between two carbon rods touching?

I recently watched this video in which carbon rods from a 6V lantern battery are removed and then touched together to create a makeshift arc reactor furnace. This produces electrified plasma which can ...
4
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1answer
213 views

Would it be possible to have an electron-less solid?

We can create plasmas quite easily, indeed you can buy a plasma cutter and generate it all day long for less than $500. Would it be possible to trap a plasma, say magnetically, and cool it so much ...
4
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2answers
2k views

Possible colors of fire?

I have learnt that depending on the various gases those are involved in the reaction that produces fire, different colors (yellow, red or blue) of flames become visible. I have a question .. what are ...
4
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4answers
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Can Gases conduct Electricity?

Liquid electrolytes ionize and hence a current can pass through them. So if a gas can ionize, can it conduct electricity too? If so, what are a few such gases?
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2answers
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Can low temperature plasma exist?

Plasma is ionized gas which as far as I know only occurs at high temperatures. When plasma cools down it tends to recombine with the electrons present and turn back into gas. But what if the ...
4
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1answer
118 views

Why does a non-contact voltage detector light up when you touch a plasma ball with the other hand?

I am doing a science experiment and we decided to try holding a non-contact voltage detector up to plasma ball. We were surprised that it would light up when it was 3 ft away from the plasma ball. I ...
4
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2answers
465 views

Difference between irreversible and entropy?

Cedric Villani recently wrote an article on Landau damping, where at least one topic discussed confused me. Besides discussing the issue of how a process can be microscopically reversible and ...
4
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2answers
74 views

Are Mach Diamonds radially symmetrical?

Videos like this show a form that suggests a radial symmetry in the gas jet. The same is reinforced by schematic illustrations. But other images, like this, look like there is a twisting structure ...
4
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1answer
292 views

Dielectric tensor vs. conductivity tensor in (cold) plasmas

I'm studying Waves in Cold plasmas right now, but I guess my question is generalizable. It's about the 4th Maxwell Equation in polarizable / conductive media: $\nabla \times H = \frac{1}{c} ...
4
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2answers
148 views

What materials are used in non thermal plasma?

While reading about non-thermal plasmas, I came across their ionization potentials(~1%), and other capabilities, such as their non Maxwellian energy distributions. At what temperatures, and pressures ...
4
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1answer
535 views

Child-Langmuir Space Charge Law for Non-Zero Cathode Potential (Non-Zero Initial Electron Velocity)

I'm trying to reconcile some conflicting results that I've found in publications that address the idea of the current in a vacuum diode in the case where the cathode has a non-zero potential, in other ...
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2answers
25k views

Is Keshe's technology for real?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UrN99RELqwo They clain they can create free energy using plasma reactors. Is this fake? M.T. Keshe said that several entities, ...
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4answers
303 views

Could ball lightening be a form of plasma?

With regard to the recent arXiv article: J. D. Shelton, Eddy Current Model of Ball Lightening http://arxiv.org/abs/1102.1224 I wonder if this is a reasonable explanation of ball lightening, or if ...