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Mention of plasma

  1. May 22, 2015 #1
    I was good in physics and chemistry at school and I have relatively good pre-university knowledge

    but I never read about plasma

    which book is complete enough starting from the begining and mentioning plasma?

    none of my physics or chemistry books mentioned plasma and it's really astonishing to miss out that fundamental knowledge!

    I am not looking for a plasma-specific book, but rather a general science book that would mention few things about it! I excelled in last year school exams in physics and chemistry, yet I never heard of plasma!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2015 #2
    It is not unlikely that few textbooks at a pre-university level address plasma. Many good undergraduate programs do not address plasma physics either. Plasma physics is generally studied by students with a strong mathematical background and a good knowledge of transport theory and electrodynamics at the university level. Pre-university of physics should mention familiar examples of plasmas, e.g. neon lights, aurora. The pre-university physics should probably mention other phases pf matter such as Bose Einstein condensate, dark matter?, superfluids etc to be complete, but an explanation of properties is a digression from what most pre-university student need. Mostly pre-universities live in a world with three phases; solid liquid, and gases. Further study of less familiar phases comes later
  4. May 23, 2015 #3
    so which general textbook mentions plasma? not plasma-specific book
  5. May 23, 2015 #4
    Volume 10: Physical Kinetics of the Landau & Lifschitz series spends ~40% of it on plasmas. I suspect this is significantly above your level, however browsing the contents pages may give you some ideas of starting points for googling. mpresic is right however, it's not really a routine topic. It isn't even mentioned in Young & Freedman for example (although the newest edition may have some mention). You may find some discussion of it in astrophysics texts, as it's a very common form of matter in space (e.g. in stars). It's sometimes mentioned in passing in low-level/general chemistry textbooks I think as well.

    In my first year of engineering we had to do a general presentation (on anything, not necessarily technical) which I did on nuclear fusion and as a result had to discuss plasmas. I found the MIT OpenCourseWare very useful, browse some of the lecture slides from the courses on nuclear fusion and/or plasmas. The first few slides of the various courses will probably give you some general idea. The basic concept of plasmas isn't hard to grasp like, for example, a lot of quantum phenomena.

    As I understand it (as a non specialist) a plasma is essentially just a gas which has been fully ionized. The ionization gives it some unique properties, particularly with respect to electromagnetic effects. However these properties haven't been fully understood so there isn't going to be a general book called "Plasma Physics 101" in the same way you won't find a text like this on other contemporary topics like graphene and nanoscience topics or modern string theory. It's just too recent and the field is moving too quickly for it to be realistically useful or economically viable to publish a textbook, particular one for such a (relative to the rest of the field) low level audience. You haven't encountered it because you don't really need to know anything beyond what's on wikipedia.
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