Comments: 6
BrokenTune 7 months ago
Do you have one in mind already?
Cairns' Plasma Physics, which I already have, has a treatment but I suspect it will not be detailed enough for what I want. If that turns out true I will have to look around for something I don't already have.
BrokenTune 7 months ago
What is it your researching? I'm intrigued as I have no idea what plasma physics is.
Imagine an atom has lost an electron; now you have a heavy, positively charged ion and a light negatively charged electron floating about. There's actually a fairly simple equation for the electrical force between them. Now imagine an entire gas of atoms has each lost an electron: the same force applies but between every particle and every other and they are all free to move around. This is a plasma. It's impossible to apply the fundamental equation to such a case so you have to make some kind of approximation, depending on the exact circumstances. One possibility is Magnetohydrodynamics which assumes the plasma is an ideal electrically conducting fluid that obeys the laws of fluid mechanics (the physics of liquid and gas flow) and of electromagnetism at the same time.

In general I'm interested in space plasmas, which exist from the sun all the way to Earth's upper atmosphere and have important effects on satellites, radio communications, GPS and other technologies that rely on them. Plasma also exists through out the solar system and in interstellar space. Plasma also exists in fusion reactors and stars. It's estimated that over 99% of normal matter is plasma.
BrokenTune 7 months ago
Oh, wow. Thanks for explaining it. I think I can picture it. That is quite a lot to think about. When you say that 99% of normal matter is plasma, what do you mean by normal matter? is that everything? Does plasma explain conductivity for example?
It appears that only ~5% of the mass in the universe is made up of the stuff we know about and can find here on Earth (the stuff that makes up atoms). This 5% is "normal" matter - the remaining 95% is made up of "dark matter" (so-called because we can't see it but know it's there from its gravitational effects) and "dark energy" which is even more mysterious and seems to be causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.

Actually, yes, plasma is at the bottom of electrical conductivity: in metals you can say there is a plasma where the heavy ions are all bound to each other and the electrons are free to move around. The flow of electrons is electrical conduction. In gaseous plasmas, the flow of electrons and ions can form electrical circuits and there are giant ones conducting millions of Amps in Earth's upper atmosphere and near-Earth space.