What Is The State Of Matter Plasma?

Did you know that there are four states of matter? Read this article to find out about the fourth, plasma.

The four states of matter are as follows: solid, liquid, gas and plasma. This last term is relatively unknown outside of the scientific world. What is plasma? How does it get the distinction of a state of matter? This article will address the nature and expanding science of plasma.

Plasmas were identified by the English scientist William Crookes in 1879. He noted that plasmas are mixtures of particles and fields. They are found in everything from the sun to quarks, the smallest particles in the universe. Plasmas can generate explosions, freeze, carry electrical currents and support magnetic fields within themselves. Almost the entire universe is made of plasma, and it existed before any other forms of matter came into being. Space plasmas can contain enough heat to melt the earth thousands of times over. Crystal plasmas can freeze the earth at least a hundred times, one after the other. (The northern lights are one example of cooler plasma, or the interaction of the earth's atmosphere with solar winds.) And plasma can actually exist in a state about the size of a cell nucleus-an incredibly dense pinpoint of matter.

The term "plasma" was initially applied to ionized gas. Plasma is actually what fills the so-called "empty" space between the sun and the earth, and also most nebulae and stars. The space it fills between the earth and the sun is actually most characterized by the "solar wind," or the plasma emissions of the sun. Imagine heated waves moving from the sun, and the Big Bang, through the universe. This is plasma's common form in space. The key to this concept is the idea of movement. Plasmas consist of electrons and ions moving around in a contained space. Often, the ions are trying to return the neutral state of a Noble gas by filling their electron levels. Plasmas can come together into a neutral gas, but can never stay in this state due to the ions within them. We are just now learning to control plasma by using the electric and magnetic fields within them to steer them. Looking at the idea of plasma, one can see that it is possible that the universe is shaped and controlled by plasma's magnetic and electric fields.

So in a nutshell, plasma is made of atoms. Atoms contain a balance of positive and negative charges, brought on by negatively-charges electrons moving around a positively-charges nucleus. Plasma occurs when this balance is set to heat, or another form of disruption. Ions an negatively charged electrons make it different from a solid, liquid or gas.

Some of the areas of human research on plasma include plasma-based heating, technology, and wave and electric beams found in plasma fields. Superconductors are being improved with information gained from plasma. A fusion reactor is in the making, the will use plasma to create a source of electric and magnetic energy. Plasma is confined, then heated, to produce an extremely volatile source of potential energy. It is hoped that plasma will eventually provide a boundless energy source for the solar system.

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