It is now believed that the universe is made of 69 % dark energy, 27 % dark matter, and 1 % normal matter. All that we can see in the sky is the part of normal matter that is in the plasma state, emitting radiation. Plasma in physics, not to be confused with blood plasma, is an “ionized” gas in which at least one of the electrons in an atom has been stripped free, leaving a positively charged nucleus, called an ion. Sometimes plasma is called the “fourth state of matter.” When a solid is heated, it becomes a liquid. Heating a liquid turns it into a gas. Upon further heating, the gas is ionized into a plasma. Since a plasma is made of ions and electrons, which are charged, electric fields are rampant everywhere, and particles “collide” not just when they bump into one another, but even at a distance where they can feel their electric fields. Hydrodynamics, which describes the flow of water through pipes, say, or the flow around boats in yacht races, or the behavior of airplane wings, is already a complicated subject. Adding the electric fields of a plasma greatly expands the range of possible motions, especially in the presence of magnetic fields.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis F. Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Electrical EngineeringUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations