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Plasma shields like in star trek will they be possible

  1. Jan 20, 2012 #1
    I read the book Physics of The Impossible by Michio Kaku. It was there I first heard of plasma windows and I was like "hey thats like Halo and Mass Effect". The problem with plasma windows is that too much energy is needed to make it and that it would vapor your spaceship or soldier if you used it as protection.

    Will cold plasma shields ever be possible? What experiments at home can I do to try to become master chief besides the microwave a candle one?

    Mayne alpha particles shields will work?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2012 #2

    Drakkith

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    The problem is that a plasma is just a bunch of atoms that have been stripped of their electrons. However, the electrons are needed to hold all materials together through molecular bonds! In a plasma you have to keep these electrons and positive nuclei very hot or they will recombine and it wont be a plasma anymore. On top of that, a plasma is usually much much less dense than even air, so it wouldn't make a good shield even if you could contain it. (Which is a whole different affair in itself. We still can't get magnetic containment for Nuclear Fusion to work right. And that's arguably easier)
     
  4. Jan 21, 2012 #3
    What if you used, an ionized cold plasma and at first condensed with huge electro magnets powered by power station to 1 foot by 1 foot wall of dense plasma to stop solid. Then eventfully down size the tech.

    Also, what could theoretical behave with the same properties as the shields of sci fi? Of course magnets produce fields but not like fiction.

    The anti rpg Trophy is just a shotgun with radar even news anchors called it a force field.
     
  5. Jan 21, 2012 #4

    Drakkith

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    There is no such thing as a cold ionized plasma in the sense you're thinking of. The plasma MUST be kept hot or it will stop being plasma.
    Nothing. The fields produced by magnets are NOT like the shields and force fields in sci fi. Neither a magnetic nor an electric field would stop an uncharged projectile, space debris, or other objects that would pose a danger to a ship.

    They call it that because it's a creative way of describing it to grab peoples attention. It is in no way similar to a force field except in the vaguest sense possible.
     
  6. Jan 22, 2012 #5
    I forget the details but there was a experiment a while back that made a frog levitate. Could something like that be used to deflect a bullet or a asteroid one day?

    Thanks, Drakkith.
     
  7. Jan 22, 2012 #6
    now that I think about it, a "plasma shield" doesn't really make sense. I mean, even if you manage to make the plasma float in a big sphere around your space ship, what does it do to protect you? I guess maybe some projectile will get vaporized by the plasma if it hits it, but then wouldn't you have to deal with the really fast moving vaporized bits of the projectile?

    Or I guess the projectile will have become plasma, and be contained in the shield...?
     
  8. Jan 22, 2012 #7

    Drakkith

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    No, the frog was levitated inside a superconducting magnet of VERY high strength and depended on the water in the frog being diamagnetic. A bullet or asteroid that was ferromagnetic would actually be attracted to the ship.

    The problem I see is that any projectile used in space combat would need to be travelling extremely fast in order to hit. At the velocities such a projectile would be moving, it would move through the plasma so quick that it effectively wouldn't absorb any heat and wouldn't vaporize.
     
  9. Jan 23, 2012 #8

    Dotini

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    It is interesting to note that ionized dust grains may act as a plasma, yet have exceedingly low temperatures. Research into dusty plasmas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dusty_plasma

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
  10. Jan 23, 2012 #9

    Drakkith

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    From the article it looks to me like the dust is suspended in a normal plasma. But even so that is interesting, I didn't know that could happen.
     
  11. Jan 23, 2012 #10

    Astronuc

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    That is perhaps a reference to interstellar medium (ISM) which has very low density. Certainly diffuse particulate matter can be charged, and behave as a plasma, but with very low density.
     
  12. Jan 23, 2012 #11
    Sorry to sound like a noob guys, but what type of theoretical application could absorb all the kinetic energy of a hi speed object like a bomb, bullet, or space rock. A plasma window would fry your own hull and a superconductor would pull ferrous asteroid towards you.

    BTW I guess I guess I have to give up on building the USS Enterprise because I cant say "Shields up, Scotty!" lol
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2012
  13. Jan 24, 2012 #12

    Ryan_m_b

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    AFAIK nothing similar to a SF sheild. You could have very thick or ablative armour (perhaps if you covered your vehicle in several tens of metres of ice) but a very fast moving projectile or powerful bomb could go through that like an artillery barrage through wet tissue paper. Alternatively you could just link radar to manoeuvring thrusters and have some form of close-in defence.
     
  14. Jan 24, 2012 #13

    sophiecentaur

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    Yep You can't argue with the Conservation of Momentum. All you can hope to do is to 'stand aside' and let a massive projectile go whizzing past.

    It's amazing how the daft ideas in SF take so long just to DIE. Remember the ideas of Jules Verne, going to the Moon? Most of the gizmos on SS Enterprise were just there because the series needed to be made within a finite budget - nothing to do with Science at all. All planets have Earth's Gravity (and all alien ships), all Aliens can converse in English, a transporter room eliminates the need for a shuttle etc etc
     
  15. Jan 24, 2012 #14

    Dotini

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    Is ablative plasma a theoretical possibility?

    A nested series of engineered plasma spheres, some kilometers in diameter, which short circuit and explode outward in sequence upon necessity.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Steve
     
  16. Jan 24, 2012 #15
    Just to add i believe a "plasma shield" is a shield to stop plasma rounds, as they fire "plasma cannons" not actually a shield made from plasma.
     
  17. Jan 24, 2012 #16

    Drakkith

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    What would this accomplish?

    Who is "they"?
     
  18. Jan 24, 2012 #17

    Ryan_m_b

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    I don't know, considering to hold the plasma you need to trap it in a magnetic field having several nested bubbles sounds complicated (I'm not even sure how exactly "plasma shields" would work, if they could be held in a sphere or not).

    However the amount of plasma that would be held is most likely very small, letting it go would have the effect of a very minor explosion and as shockwaves don't propagate in space anyway all you would be doing is weakening your "shield"
     
  19. Jan 24, 2012 #18

    sophiecentaur

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    It seems to me that people have taken a fictional idea and they're wanting to force the Physics of it to fit it into the real world. A lot of this is really no better than discussing why Garlic should repel Vampires. A few 'sciency' words don't constitute a worthwhile engineering proposition.
    Fair enough - ask the question, but don't support something like this to the bitter end. The theory of epicycles and a Goecentric Universe was applied in exactly the same way to support a really naff model. It had to let go in the end and was replaced by some much more reasonable ideas.
     
  20. Jan 24, 2012 #19

    Ryan_m_b

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    My thoughts entirely.

    If we want to break down the issue the question becomes not "when will we have shields to protect spaceships like on Star Trek" but "what kind of defences can be built for spaceships to protect them from hazards, both natural and hostile." This question is interesting but a bit moot; there have been no manned missions beyond low earth orbit in 30 years and this doesn't look to change radically in future. If we do have a leap to sending people farther than the moon we may have to deal with increased radiation (in which case huge water tanks and perhaps a plasma window might be useful) but trying to predict how we will solve problems that far ahead isn't a massively worthwhile exercise as we have no idea what the conditions and technologies of that time will be.
     
  21. Jan 24, 2012 #20

    Drakkith

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    Short version: Plasma shields are fiction. They don't work in real life.
     
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