5 Things Everyone Should Know About Plasma
1. The Fourth State of Matter:
Plasma is often referred to as the fourth state of matter, alongside solids, liquids, and gases. It is created when a gas becomes superheated to the point where electrons are stripped from atoms, forming a highly charged, electrically conductive medium. Cold atmospheric plasmas (CAPs) are slightly more nebulous than its superheated family members. Research into the physics of cold plasma and cold atmospheric plasma reactiveness is not even a decade old! CAPs research is showing immense promise in fields of medicine as well as transportation, and even chemistry!
2. Ubiquitous in the Universe:
Plasma is the most abundant state of matter in the universe, making up a significant portion of stars, galaxies, and the interstellar medium. An estimated 99.99% of the overall contents of the Universe is made up of some form of plasma. Understanding plasma is key to unraveling the dynamics of astrophysical phenomena. The Universe, space, is not “empty space”, but a “plenum” where everything that is, exists. “Empty space” is a type of plasma.
3. Electrically Charged:
Plasma is characterized by its unique electrical properties. It responds strongly to electromagnetic forces, allowing it to generate and interact with magnetic fields. This makes it central to fusion research, space physics, and astrophysical investigations. Plasma interactions might also be a fundamental capacity of consciousness as recent research from the Institute of Noetic Sciences has demonstrated human intention’s ability to perturb an electrical plasma.
4. Applications in Technology:
Plasma finds a wide range of practical applications, from fluorescent lights and plasma TVs to semiconductor manufacturing and materials processing. It's also used in plasma-based propulsion systems for spacecraft. This new form of propulsion is not very well understood in the public domain research circles currently. Research into advanced plasma propulsion is still in its fledgling exploratory stages. Until or unless world governments begin declassifying their advanced energy propulsion research. We’ll refrain from holding our breath for that one though!
5. Challenges in Containment:
One of the key challenges in plasma physics is the confinement of high-temperature plasmas, essential for achieving controlled nuclear fusion. Scientists are exploring magnetic confinement, such as in tokamaks, devices built in toroidal- or donut- shapes which produce magnetic fields capable of containing hot plasma, and inertial confinement which utilizes powerful lasers to address this issue.
Now that you've got somewhat of a cursory foundation on the many fields and applications involved in new plasma research, you will be empowered to explore the many ways in which this exciting new field can impact your life, and the collective society we find ourselves in!