What Are Sparks? Science & Definition

  • Thread starter Pengwuino
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In summary, sparks can refer to both hot pieces of metal ejected due to friction and the visible results of making electrons "jump the gap" in an electrical current. They can be seen in mechanical scenarios such as a train suddenly hitting the brakes or in electrical scenarios such as a shock from static electricity. These sparks can be created by heating material to high temperatures or by creating plasma from the atmosphere.
  • #1
Pengwuino
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So what exactly are sparks in theri scientific sense? Are they really hot pieces of metal flying off or large amounts of light coming off or what?
 
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  • #2
I think that the sparks you see when a train suddenly hits the breaks or whatever (steel wheels on steel rails) are little glowing bits of metal heated to high temps by friction and thrown in all directions.

Spark, if I remember right, also has another connotation. What you see in a darkened room if you get a shock from static electricity. Or, the spark plug in a car. Basically I think it refers to whenever you make electrons "jump the gap", and that produces visible results. I'm open to corrections though.
 
  • #3
cepheid said:
I'm open to corrections though.
Any mechanical spark, as in the train scenario you mentioned, or a bench grinder, is indeed a piece of material heated to incandescence and ejected from the point of origin. An electrical spark consists of plasma which has been created from the atmosphere by the heat involved in the electric current. It's like a little neon bulb, but since the air is primarily nitrogen, it glows purplish rather than red.
 

Related to What Are Sparks? Science & Definition

1. What causes sparks?

Sparks are caused by the rapid release of energy from a material. This can be due to friction, heat, or electrical discharge.

2. How are sparks created in a fire?

Sparks in a fire are created by small pieces of hot material being thrown into the air. These pieces are created when the heat of the fire causes a material to rapidly oxidize and break apart.

3. Can sparks be dangerous?

Yes, sparks can be dangerous if they come in contact with flammable materials or if they cause an explosion. It is important to take precautions and handle sparks carefully.

4. Can sparks be different colors?

Yes, sparks can appear in a variety of colors depending on the material that is burning or reacting. For example, copper can create green sparks, while iron can create orange sparks.

5. How are sparks used in industrial processes?

Sparks are commonly used in industrial processes such as welding, cutting, and grinding. These processes use sparks to heat and melt materials, creating a strong bond between them.

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