What is a plasma?
What is a plasma? This introduction will define the plasma fourth state of matter, where we find plasmas on earth and beyond, and why they are useful. There are applications to many consumer items, fusion energy, scientific devices, satellite communications, semiconductor processing, spacecraft propulsion, and more. Since 99% of our observable universe is ionized gas, plasma physics determines many important features of astrophysics, space physics, and magnetosphere physics in our solar system. We describe some plasma characteristics, examples in nature, some useful applications, how to create plasmas. A brief introduction to the theoretical framework includes the connection between kinetic and fluid descriptions, quasi neutrality, Debye shielding, ambipolar electric fields, some plasma waves. Hands-on demonstrations follow. More complete explanations will follow next week.
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