Engineers create an "impossible" ring of plasma floating in open air
Caltech engineers create a stable ring of plasma in the air, a feat thought impossible.
Caltech researchers managed to pull off a feat of science fiction made real as they created a ring of plasma in open air.
Plasma is one of the four fundamental phases of matter, along with solid, liquid and gas. Plasmas, which you encounter more commonly in St. Elmo’s fire, plasma TVs, neon lights and fluorescent light bulbs, are made up of charged ions and electrons. They do not have any specific shapes and are constrained by their container, when man-made.
The Caltech team, which published a paper on their findings, managed to generate a ring-like plasma shape without a container, as well as develop the ability to maintain it indefinitely. All they needed for the accomplishment, which was previously deemed “impossible” was a thin jet of water and a crystal plate.
Francisco Pereira, a visiting scholar at Caltech, who co-authored the paper with Morteza (Mory) Gharib, put their achievement in perspective:
"We were told by some colleagues this wasn't even possible,” said Pereira. “But we can create a stable ring and maintain it for as long as we want, no vacuum or magnetic field or anything.”
Here’s a video of the experiment:
The actual experiment consisted of a stream of water thinner than a human hair being blasted from a nozzle into a crystal plate at the speed of around 1,000 feet per second. That’s the same speed as a bullet from a handgun.
As the water jet hits the crystal, it creates a flow of positively charged ions on the negative charged surface. Thus made triboelectric effect causes a flow of electrons to the surface, where they end up ionizing the atoms and molecules in the air. This, in its own turn, generates a donut or torus of glowing plasma which remains stable while the water flows.
The scientists believe that eventual application of their discovery may be in energy storage.
You can find their study here, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.
- Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
- The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
- Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.
- According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
- Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
- Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Could this be the long-awaited solution to economic inequality?
Under capitalism, the argument goes, it's every man for himself. Through the relentless pursuit of self-interest, everyone benefits, as if an invisible hand were guiding each of us toward the common good. Everyone should accordingly try to get as much as they can, not only for their goods but also for their labour. Whatever the market price is is, in turn, what the buyer should pay. Just like the idea that there should be a minimum wage, the idea that there should be a maximum wage seems to undermine the very freedom that the free market is supposed to guarantee.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.