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 ...
23
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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 ...
19
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4answers
893 views

Why does only one side of a neon lamp glow?

When applying DC to a neon lamp, only one electrode glows: The voltages across the lamps are left: DC (left lead positive), middle: DC (right lead positive), and right: AC. But... why? The ...
14
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4answers
990 views

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 ...
12
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2answers
307 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 ...
11
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2answers
416 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 ...
11
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4answers
484 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?
11
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3answers
10k 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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2answers
4k 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 ...
9
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1answer
468 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
504 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
74 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, ...
7
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3answers
728 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 ...
7
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4answers
313 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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2answers
5k 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 ...
7
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0answers
241 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 ...
6
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2answers
429 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
754 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 ...
6
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2answers
624 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
103 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 ...
6
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2answers
125 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 ...
5
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2answers
307 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
283 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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1answer
4k views

How to debunk 'The Electric Universe'?

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 ...
5
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3answers
245 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
276 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 ...
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5answers
905 views

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 ...
4
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4answers
7k views

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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1answer
189 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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1answer
122 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 ...
4
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1answer
108 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 ...
4
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2answers
966 views

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
251 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 ...
4
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2answers
166 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
71 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
66 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} ...
3
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6answers
5k 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?
3
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4answers
290 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 ...
3
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2answers
8k views

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?
3
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2answers
528 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 ?
3
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1answer
149 views

Why do many books say quasineutrality is needed for a plasma to exist?

Many books on plasma physics (Chen, Goldston, Lieberman) say that quasineutrality must be satisfied for the matter in question to be a plasma. Yet, we know that non-neutral plasmas exist. So why do so ...
3
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4answers
2k views

Can plasma turn back into gas, solid, or liquid?

I wanted to know if, since basic chemistry teaches you that states of matter can be changed, I was wondering particularly about plasma. I know that virtually all of the Sun is plasma, so I was ...
3
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1answer
572 views

What is non-thermal plasma?

I read about non-thermal plasma, but I still have some questions: The ions and neutral particles are not in thermal equilibrium with the electron, does that mean that the overall temperature is low ...
3
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2answers
211 views

Pressures Necessary for Carbon Detonation

Carbon detonation is a characteristic event of Type 1a Supernova (EDIT: where an accreting white dwarf near the Chandrashankar limit of 1.4 solar masses explodes), an extremely important standard ...
3
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1answer
262 views

role of pure mathematics in fusion?

Is there any way a pure math guy can get his rigorous math fix while simultaneously moving fusion research forward? Is fusion simply too complicated to take a pure math approach? What open math ...
3
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1answer
450 views

What is electron density and its unit in plasma physics?

I can not find (through Google search engine) that what means electron density and what is its unit? and what is there relation between electron density and electrical conductivity?
3
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1answer
178 views

Compressing a fluid with arbitrarily large force in an infinitely strong chamber

Imagine I have an infinitely strong container of volume $v_1$, and I fill it with some monoatomic fluid like liquid hydrogen. I then proceed to compress the walls of the container to reduce its ...
3
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1answer
98 views

estimating ion collisions from Vlasov equations

Suppose you have a distribution function $ f_{\alpha}( \vec{r} , \vec{p} , t)$ obtained from Vlasov equations for a certain $\alpha$ species, say some ions. Is there a rigorous way (in the domain of ...
3
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0answers
176 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 ...
3
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1answer
193 views

What velocity must an aircraft achieve for its shock wave to transform to plasma?

A follow-up to After what speed air friction starts to heat up an object? I understand there may be technological limitations at present ... but, is it theoretically possible for a body to travel ...