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Questions about plasma physics and other stuff

  1. Jul 28, 2008 #1
    I don't know if this belongs here but here it goes.

    I started to think about it(not much however) when reading the last phrase in this thread


    "As my QM professor kept saying this semester, "If you hate this stuff, there's always plasmas.""

    So the questions that popped up in my head are these

    1. Are classical physics considered to be less (intellectual) Challenging than quantum mechanics/physics

    2. Would plasma physics be considered a challenging field(in it's own right and compared to other fields like QM and other areas)and if so, why?

    3. Is the last post in above link correct? I mean, does QM really matter much in geoscience, thermal science(fluid-, thermodynamics and heat transfer) and physics relevant for mechanical and civil engineers? I might be way off and obvisously I'm not too familiar with physics(I only have some math and a course in mechanics)

    4. Could stellar and interstellar medium physics(and other astrophysical plasma fields) be considered to be plasma physics or does plasma physics differ to much from stellar physics? What I mean is, if someone have studied plasma physics, could he/she apply that on stars and the interstellar medium?

    5. Plasma physics is somewhat a "new" field(that my understanding anyways, I might be wrong), will there be any new fields for plasma physicist in the near future for example high enery plasma physics, particle plasma physics or Quantum plasma physics or wouldn't particle physics or quantum physics be relevant in plasma physics?

    There will might be questions why I wonder and other questions and suggestions but as long as a reason for my question isn't required I won't give one so instead of wondering, please just answer the questions. I know that the last sentence sounds rude but that isn't my intention. English just happens to be my second language and not my first and with that said, I hope the questions were clear otherwise I will try to rewrite them. Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2008 #2


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    1. Personally, I don't consider Classical Physics any less challenging than QM or QP.

    2. Plasma physics is challenging in its own right., especially when begins to look at smaller and smaller dimensions.

    3. . . . does QM really matter much in geoscience, thermal science (fluid-, thermodynamics and heat transfer) and physics relevant for mechanical and civil engineers? No, not really.

    4. Plasma physics encompasses a broad domain on which I'll elaborate later. Within plasma physics, there are specialties, e.g. fusion plasmas, arc plasmas, stellar plasmas, and interstellar (medium) plasmas, as well as others which are primarily differentiated by density and temperature (energy).

    5. Plasma physics has been around for some time. The term "plasma" is attriuted to Irving Langmuir who apparently coined the term in 1928. Hannes Alfvén (May 30, 1908 - April 2, 1995),a plasma physicist, won a Nobel Prize for his work on the theory of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1970/

    There are probably opportunities to use QM in plasma physics, but in most applications it's not necessary.
  4. Aug 1, 2008 #3
    Please do, I would like to read that.

    Ok, some follow up questions. I know that this might seem dumb but as they say if you don't ask you won't get answer and I'm curios .I found your thread about plasma physics and read some of the sites and also looked up www.plasmas.org and got the impression that plasma physics can or could be a very broad area. What I wonder if thats true. According to the sites, plasma physics are obvisouly very important in astro- and space physics and fusion research but also in material science and could be important in environmental engineering(waste disposal and remediation) and also something called plasma medicine

    http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_60/iss_12/23_1.shtml [Broken]

    What I wonder is this, are these claims true or is this just plasma physicists trying to make their field more important than it really is(outside of astrophysics and fusion research)?

    Also, would you say that the fluiddynamics, electrodynamics and nonlinear physics(I've gotten the impression that these three areas are very important in plasma physics) you learn in plasma would be general enough that one could also do research or work within other fields where those areas, my impression but I might be wrong) are important(like meteorology or maybe remote sensing or something?). I thought about this when I saw this site

    http://www.info.umu.se/FoDB/Projektbeskrivning.aspx?id=420 [Broken]

    It seems that doing plasma physics give you a very good insight in nonlinear physics which apparently can be used in many different areas, so I wonder if knowledge you aquired while doing plasma research than can be used in other nonlinear systems?. The same thing went trough my mind when reading about dusty plasmas at ...erhm wikipedia... so I thought, if one were to study dusty plasma and learnt about self organization, could the results then be used to understand other self organizing systems like those described at , once again, wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-organization).

    I guess that I could give more examples but in the end I think everything boils down to one simple question. How broad would you say that plasma physics is and how many applications are there(with out stretching it) and can the math and physics behind plasma physics actually be used in so many different areas as I have been lead to believe
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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