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Science Technology

A Stable Plasma Ring Has Been Created In Open Air For the First Time Ever (futurism.com) 113

New submitter mrcoder83 shares a report from Futurism: Engineers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have been able to create a stable plasma ring without a container. According to the Caltech press release, it's "essentially capturing lightning in a bottle, but without the bottle." This remarkable feat was achieved using only a stream of water and a crystal plate, made from either quartz and lithium niobate. The union of these tools induced a type of contact electrification known as the triboelectric effect. The researchers blasted the crystal plate with an 85-micron-diameter jet of water (narrower than a human hair) from a specially designed nozzle. The water hit the crystal plate with a pressure of 632.7 kilograms of force per centimeter (9,000 pounds per square inch), generating an impact velocity of around 305 meters per second (1,000 feet per second) -- as fast as a bullet from a handgun. Plasma was formed as a result of the creation of an electric charge when the water hit the crystal surface. The flow of electrons from the point of contact ionizes the molecules and atoms in the gas area surrounding the water's surface, forming a donut-shaped glowing plasma that's dozens of microns in diameter. Caltech posted a video of the plasma ring on their YouTube channel.
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A Stable Plasma Ring Has Been Created In Open Air For the First Time Ever

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  • 1950s technology (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boudie2 ( 1134233 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @02:10AM (#55575385)
    "Gharib’s team also noticed another peculiar phenomenon: the plasma ring emitted distinct radio frequencies, as evidenced by the high levels of static the engineers’ mobile phones picked up during the experiment. “That’s never been seen before. We think it’s because of the piezo properties of the materials that we used in our experiments,” Pereira explained."
    Sounds to me like he's never heard of the plasma speaker.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Millennials have never heard of anything. The 1950s never happened except in fairy tales.

      • It's easier to keep the black projects secret when you don't teach people the history leading up to them and just let them relive the same 20-40 years of technological development over and over again.
        • Oh boy I'm so looking forward to the invention of the steam engine but not before they unveil the Spinning Jenny. Seriously what the fuck are you talking about?
          • Oh boy I'm so looking forward to the invention of the steam engine but not before they unveil the Spinning Jenny. Seriously what the fuck are you talking about?

            All the "breakthrough" tech coming out in the realm of quantum mechanics and such today was discovered in the 60's. The black projects run by the government are so far beyond the science known in the civilian world it's absurd. It might help if you look up the definition of the term "black project" and find the associated (known) budgets (i.e. missing money.) Take all the scientific funding from every nation combined over the last several decades, now multiply it by about 10. That's the difference betwe

    • A neat magic trick for parties!

      Now, how does this get us any closer to plasma nuclear fusion power . . . ?

      • It's (always) just around the corner ...
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Only 20 years away!
      • by hlavac ( 914630 )
        Just wait, when they pitch this to the military US will have plasma weapons in 3 years! Financed by uncovered debt like the rest of it...
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        A neat magic trick for parties!

        For very small parties, given that these rings are no more than microns across.

  • To figure out the rest of Minovsky physics
  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @02:48AM (#55575451) Homepage Journal

    The hell kind of weird bastardized units are these writers using? Kilograms are mass. Newtons are force. Do you mean 9.8N, which is about the force of 1kg under 1g (g-force, not grams) of acceleration?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The water hit the crystal plate with a pressure of 632.7 kilograms of force per centimeter (9,000 pounds per square inch)

      Everyone seems to have missed the really important detail.

      The strange quantum effect which changes the dimensionality of the effect from 2D to 1D depending on the units used to make the measurement.

    • I agree. Even the CalTech press release uses non-standard units.

      The stream of water is an 85-micron-diameter jet blasting from a specially designed nozzle at 9,000 pounds per square inch that strikes the crystal plate with an impact velocity of around 1,000 feet per second. For reference, that's a stream narrower than a human hair moving about as fast as a bullet fired from a handgun.

      If they are giving an intuitive comparison after the numbers in any case (which is a good idea for a press release), just st

    • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @12:23PM (#55577131)
      What is curious is that they needed precisely 632.7 kilograms of force per centimeter [sic], to 4 significant figures. Even more remarkable is that this evaluates to almost exactly 9,000 pounds per square inch (8999.1 psi to be precise).
      • Yeah, that's the dead giveaway isn't it. Obviously the original figure was 9000 psi and someone tried to "helpfully" convert it into SI units but failed their most basic unit analysis, turning force into mass and, as an AC points out above, square inches into centimeters, ultimately converting a measurement of pressure into a measurement of linear density. What?

      • *meta*

        I've been lurking on slashdot for around 18 years now, so I have some perspective....

        I know it's de rigueur these days to bitch and moan about how awful slashdot is. But to the skeptics I say: parent's comment is exactly why I keep coming back. Thank you for that neat bit of sleuthing ortholattice! /meta

  • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @04:17AM (#55575619)

    .. is "either quartz", and did anyone else find their youtube video a little short of details?

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday November 18, 2017 @04:26AM (#55575641) Homepage Journal

    Either/or, Neither/nor.

    Come the fuck on. Try being less lazy than using a simple spelling check.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Indeed. I didn't understand that sentence at all. Either quarz and lithium??? WTF??

  • Pack it up and send it all to Germany and Canada, the US just killed its entire research capacity. Any project left there is effectively abandoned now. Scientists and researchers can travel easily, so this is really retarded politicians killing your economic future for a stupid game. 20 years ago, who would have thought the end of US power would come so quickly?
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @05:21AM (#55575761)

      If you had told me half a century ago that there could be any land that might eclipse the US in terms of technology and progress, I would have called you insane. Remember? The time when the US built those huge rockets to go where nobody has gone before?

      20 years ago I would probably have said something along the lines of "Yeah, Japan. but they can't compete in raw production power"

      Today, I'd probably ask if there is actually still any research and development done in the US, and whether there is actually any US-owned corporation left, or whether the Chinese are finally done taking over.

      • Hmm, check your facts. The US space program used many German scientists and engineers recruited after the 2nd World War. The most famous German being Wernher von Braun the architect of the Saturn V.

        • You might also remember that a lot more happened in the 60s that made the US the top of the world science hub. But let's stay with the moonshot, while the engineering was important, the whole mission hung on WAY more than the ability to make a large rocket go up. There's logistics, process management, raw manpower and on top of all an economy to power the whole deal. Frankly, making a rocket go up was certainly the most visible of the whole endeavor, but in the end only the tip of the iceberg.

    • Why are you even posting this here? The article and numerous others refute your claim.
  • Wake me up when some students can create a stable plasma penis in the air, then I believe they can handle the tech.

  • If I compare the following quotes from the quoted article:

    ...it’s “essentially capturing lightning in a bottle, but without the bottle.”

    and

    ...forming a donut-shaped glowing plasma that’s dozens of microns in diameter.

    then I can't help it, but I have to LOL!

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      ...forming a donut-shaped glowing plasma that’s dozens of microns in diameter.

      Dozens I tell you! My penile length is dozens of millimeters, you should be impressed.

  • Measurements! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:15AM (#55575877)

    "generating an impact velocity of around 305 meters per second (1,000 feet per second)"

    Ok, the actual science was done measuring meters per second, the press release rounds it to a nice round number of 1000f/s for American audience, and then that rounded number is converted to a quite exact figure of 305m/s.

    In the actual paper [caltech.edu], the experiment was done with a wide range of velocities. Over 200 m/s was required velocity to generate the effect.

  • by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @06:52AM (#55575929)

    made from either quartz and lithium niobate

    1) Either quartz or niobate? 2) Quartz and niobate? 3) Either quartz and niobate or _____?

  • Ball Lightning is a stable plasma structure. Paul Koloc thought that they were a field-reversed configuration [wikipedia.org] and created these is his garage on his Plasmak machine. I saw it myself. Paul was a plasma physicist, not a nut job.

    Since his death (he was near eighty) his website went down. I found this article https://www.wired.com/2009/02/... [wired.com] .

    As the article notes it received very little funding.

  • WTF /. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drewsup ( 990717 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @08:44AM (#55576189)

    I submitted this FOUR DAYS AGO, with links to the Caltech aticle!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It took 4 days to put all those errors in the summary.
    • People around here aren't smart enough to read Caltech press releases anymore. They need simpler, more error-ridden summaries.
      The comments from the youtube peanut gallery on the video are even worse. I miss intelligent discourse.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday November 18, 2017 @10:46AM (#55576693)

    They're not. Get over it.

    SI has a perfectly good unit of force (the newton). It will be really great when SI advocates actually start using SI, rather than bastardizing it with things like "kilograms of force"....

    • they meant kilogram-equivalents of force, which is valid, you can even buy pressure gauges using those.

  • Step 1: {F, M}ake plasma ring
    Step 2: ?
    Step 3: Profit!
  • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Sunday November 19, 2017 @02:35AM (#55579699)

    Oh yes,i barely can wait for a galaxy note phone with a plasma ring as it's battery.
    Nothing possibly could go wrong.

  • News for grammar/mathematical-unit nerds - fuck off with actual tech discussion.

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