Understanding the fourth matter

I really enjoyed last Thursday’s lecture! As we listened to Dr. Gekelman’s discussion I couldn’t help but to remember the feeling I had when I first attended our BioArt lecture. I came in with no prior knowledge of the two existing worlds (Biotech and Art) and I felt like I knew nothing to contribute. Learning about plasmas, I felt the same way but just like how our class intrigued me, so did his lecture! In my science classes we’ve always discussed plasma, but we never really delve into it. It was just kind of there.

Source: Google Images-Stars

One thing I really appreciated about Dr. Gekelman’s discussion was that it felt so casual. I didn’t feel intimated or like I knew nothing, but rather it was an atmosphere where I felt like most people were just as confused as I was. I think Dr. Gekelman’s work really signifies what is means to bring biotech and art together. Although unintentional, when the plasmas collided or were just straight photographed, they were beautiful! The colors and the styles create something beautiful. As the discussion came to an end, I couldn't help but to want to learn more about plasmas and Dr. Gekelman’s projects. The daily bruin wrote about the piece and I found it to be extremely helpful. The article quotes Dr. Gekelman stating that “The room that houses the center’s plasma-processing device must be kept dust-free at all times to run projects correctly. At industrial plants, rooms like these cost $1 billion to build and maintain. Machines stored in the rooms are worth another $400 million” (Dr.Gekelman quoted in Daily Bruin).

Source: Daily Briun- Author James Barragan (cited below)

That’s an insane amount of money put into this project, which can only really represent how important it is to learn more about plasmas. Dr. Gekelman in his discussion repeatedly stated that the rate of the volatile splitting of the plasma occurs in a millionth of a second. A millionth of a second, that’s mind-boggling! So this plasma device they built has the capacity to take these photos of the splitting and present it in detail to the researchers. This knowledge that has been going unknown forever is now a reliable source of research and that’s pretty awesome! While I was learning about why plasma is important to study, I learned that it is the most common state of matter in the universe; it’s just not so present on planet Earth. It is found everywhere, maybe not literally, but just look up and you see plasma! It’s found in the beautiful stars we see and in the space between them. The experimenting of plasma can lead to alternate sources of energy, innovative technology in the medical field, and many other things.

Source: Google Images- Understanding Plasma State of Matter

The coolest part of researching something that hasn’t been researched ever is this idea that there is unlimited potential and unlimited knowledge. As I glanced over the current projects the plasma facility is involved I was surprised to see how many things this device is being used for. The research and dedication that is going in to understand plasmas is most definitely going to be something worthwhile! The project that I most looking forward to is the collaboration of art and plasma. I absolutely loved the art idea Professor Vesna presented to Dr. Gekelman, and I cannot wait to see how it will come out.

Source: Google Images-Lightening


Work Cited

Barragan, James. "UCLA’s LArge Plasma Device Helps Understand Universe, Create Innovative Technology through Experimentation with Artificial Plasma." Daily Bruin. UCLA, 24 Jan. 2011. Web. 24 May 2016.

Carter, Alex. "What Is The Fourth State Of Matter?" Mental_Floss. Mental Floss, 18 June 2015. Web. 24 May 2016. <http://mentalfloss.com/uk/science/29811/what-is-the-fourth-state-of-matter>.

Gekelman, Walter, Dr. "Basic Plasma Science Facility at UCLA." Plasma Physics UCLA. UCLA Basic Plasma Science Facility. Physics & Astronomy Home., Web.

"Plasma: The Fourth Matter of State." Pluto Space. SouthWest Research Institute.Web. 24 May 2016. <http://pluto.space.swri.edu/image/glossary/plasma.html>.

"Plasma, the Fourth State of Matter." Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL, Web. <http://web.ornl.gov/sci/fed/Theory/tt/ttmcp/plasma.htm>.