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Q & A: plasma and electricity

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Most recent answer: 03/16/2018
Q:
So, plasma is made of charged particles. But I thought that electricity was the movement of charged particles. What is the difference between the two? What I mean is, could plasma generate electricity if its particles move?
- Anonymous (age 10)
Rhode Island
A:

A plasma has both positive and negative particles that can move independently. That in itself won't cause an electrical current to flow. In fact, and ordinary piece of metal has charged particles that can move. Current only flows through it when an electric field is present, systematically pushing the negative and positive particles opposite directions. A plasma is like that too.

Actually, to be a little more precise, there are tiny currents coming from the random motions of the charged particles. You can hear the effect of these tiny random currents as background noise in radios. Any systematic current requires that something else create a systematic electric field.

Mike W.


(published on 03/16/2018)

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