13 Oct, 2016 530 Physics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss plasma, the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid and gas. As over ninety-nine percent of all observable matter in the Universe is plasma, planets like ours, with so little plasma and so much solid, liquid and gas, appear all the more remarkable. On the grand scale, plasma is what the Sun is made from and, when we look into the night sky, almost everything we can see with the naked eye is made of plasma. On the smallest scale, here on Earth, scientists make plasma to etch the microchips on which we rely for so much. Plasma is in the fluorescent light bulbs above our heads and, in laboratories around the world, it is the subject of tests to create, one day, an inexhaustible and clean source of energy from nuclear fusion.

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  • Justin Wark 3 episodes
    Professor of Physics and Fellow of Trinity College at the University of Oxford
  • Kate Lancaster No other episodes
    Research Fellow for Innovation and Impact at the York Plasma Institute at the University of York
  • Bill Graham No other episodes
    Professor of Physics at Queens University, Belfast

Reading list

  • The Physics of Inertial Fusion: Beam Plasma Interaction, Hydrodynamics, Hot Dense Matter
    Stefano Atzeni and Jurgen Meyer-ter-Vehn (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Non-equilibrium Air Plasmas at Atmospheric Pressure
    K. H. Becker, U. Kogelshatz, K. H. Shoenbach and R. J. Barker (IOP Publishing Ltd, 2005) Google Books →
  • Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion: Volume 1: Plasma Physics
    Francis F. Chen (Springer, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Fourth State of Matter: An Introduction to Plasma Science
    S. Eliezer and Y. Eliezer (Taylor & Francis, 2001) Google Books →
  • The Physics of Laser Plasma Interactions
    William Kruer (Westview Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Principles of Plasma Discharges and Materials Processing
    Michael A. Lieberman and Alan J. Lichtenberg (John Wiley & Sons, 2005) Google Books →
  • Atomic Physics in Hot Plasmas
    David Salzmann (Oxford University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Aurora: In Search of the Northern Lights
    Melanie Windridge (William Collins, 2017) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Plasma, thought of as the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid and gas.