Magnetic forces are favored?

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ohiovr
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Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by ohiovr »

Hello,

Am I wrong in believing that magnetic forces are far more studied than electrostatic forces? I had a hunch that tokamaks would be practical as soon as really high powered magnets became available. MIT had an article that said basically the same thing (sorry I can't dig it up). So the quest for ever more powerful superconducting bla bla magnets will always be on going. There are all kinds of wonderful applications for high power magnetics like medical imagining and particle research.

But why don't electrstatic forces get the same kind of love from scientists? The highest voltage attained in the lab is still far below the power of a standard lightniging strike. Where as mankind routinely makes magnetic fields far stronger than the entire earth's magnetic field.

Why no interest in electrostatic fields when gamma rays and neutron emissions spike during lightning strikes?

Tom Ligon
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by Tom Ligon »

Electrostatic fields were pretty well investigated by the vacuum tube folks, and exploited commercially. Now most people find that technology passé. They were the basis for particle accelerators ranging from Time of Flight Mass Spectrometers to the first Atom Smashers. But I guess when they started making magnetrons, mag-sector mass specs, and cyclotrons, the huge forces one could produce with magnets to enhance the early approaches just got really seductive. Plus, modern physicists think in terms of electromagnetism as a unified phenomenon (although I think engineers tend to still think of them as two different forces that play interestingly together). Apply electromagnetism (RF power) to accelerating particles and you get some really spectacular results.

Part of the charm of introducing the public to the Fusor was to get them thinking about electrostatics again.

Yes, powerful magnets will make tokamaks more workable, but the conventional approach with the magnetic field generated outside of a thick lithium blanket will necessarily remain a low beta device. Plasma pressure will have to be kept under 10% of magnetic pressure due to instabilities in the concave field configuration. The Polywell, and related devices configured with convex fields, will be able to work at betas approaching 1 (plasma pressure = magnetic pressure), which predicts far higher fusion power densities for the same field.

But important as the magnetic field is, if you ignore electrostatics in any of these machines, you're doomed. Ultimately, Coulomb repulsion is electrostatic, and if you forget electrostatics you'll never understand fusion.

Tom Ligon
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by Tom Ligon »

Your post reminded me to look up the math behind the quadrupole mass spectrometer. The quadrupole uses crossed electric fields, produced by four electrodes in opposing pairs at right angles. These are common in modern labs. I installed one on PXL-1 and WB-3 to analyze residual gas. Most residual gas analyzers these days are quadrupoles. I believe the usual embodiment is RF applied across one pair of electrodes and DC across the other pair, but I've never looked all that closely.

But I did attend a short seminar on the topic back in college, and vaguely remembered that the math behind these marvels of electric fields predates the discovery of the electron. Indeed, quadrupole mass specs run on the Mathieu equation. Good luck getting any Wiki on quadrupole mass specs to cite the real source of this theory. You have to dig to find out that Émile Léonard Mathieu (1835-1890) developed the math long before we had cathode rays to play with. And this math is wildly complex stuff.

Perhaps the environment at the time was conducive to this sort of thought. 19th century French politics must have been about like an ion being shaken to and fro, seeking a stable path out of the opposing and changing forces.

ohiovr
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by ohiovr »

Thanks for the stories Tom!

Here is another weird thing. Scientists assume that there is this giant imbalance of matter to antimatter in the universe. How do they really know that? Doesn't antimatter behave exactly like matter in terms of spectra? How do we know there aren't anti-matter galaxies?

And in a similar sort of bizarre observation by OhioVR, there is also the weird issue of similar charges between planets? Aren't we lucky there isn't a million volt difference between the Earth and Mars? I mean that'd ruin JPL's day for sure...

ohiovr
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by ohiovr »

Tom Ligon wrote:Electrostatic fields were pretty well investigated by the vacuum tube folks, and exploited commercially. Now most people find that technology passé. They were the basis for particle accelerators ranging from Time of Flight Mass Spectrometers to the first Atom Smashers. But I guess when they started making magnetrons, mag-sector mass specs, and cyclotrons, the huge forces one could produce with magnets to enhance the early approaches just got really seductive. Plus, modern physicists think in terms of electromagnetism as a unified phenomenon (although I think engineers tend to still think of them as two different forces that play interestingly together). Apply electromagnetism (RF power) to accelerating particles and you get some really spectacular results.

Part of the charm of introducing the public to the Fusor was to get them thinking about electrostatics again.

Yes, powerful magnets will make tokamaks more workable, but the conventional approach with the magnetic field generated outside of a thick lithium blanket will necessarily remain a low beta device. Plasma pressure will have to be kept under 10% of magnetic pressure due to instabilities in the concave field configuration. The Polywell, and related devices configured with convex fields, will be able to work at betas approaching 1 (plasma pressure = magnetic pressure), which predicts far higher fusion power densities for the same field.

But important as the magnetic field is, if you ignore electrostatics in any of these machines, you're doomed. Ultimately, Coulomb repulsion is electrostatic, and if you forget electrostatics you'll never understand fusion.

According to this link:

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/thunder.html

A lightning strike compresses the air up to 100 atm before it all lets loose. I mean... well dang...

ohiovr
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by ohiovr »

Ah here is an article about the neutrons in lightning phenomena

http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/03/ ... comments=1

hanelyp
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by hanelyp »

ohiovr wrote:Thanks for the stories Tom!

Here is another weird thing. Scientists assume that there is this giant imbalance of matter to antimatter in the universe. How do they really know that? Doesn't antimatter behave exactly like matter in terms of spectra? How do we know there aren't anti-matter galaxies?
If a matter dominated region and an antimatter dominated region were adjacent you'd expect an annihilation rich zone where they abutted. To the best of my knowledge no such region has been observed. Even if you assume that matter and antimatter are balanced overall but dominate in different regions, there's the mystery of how a region became dominated by one or the other.
And in a similar sort of bizarre observation by OhioVR, there is also the weird issue of similar charges between planets? Aren't we lucky there isn't a million volt difference between the Earth and Mars? I mean that'd ruin JPL's day for sure...
The interplanetary medium isn't a complete vacuum, but contains charged particles. If a planet were charged to a voltage different from that medium it would attract charged particles to neutralize the charge.
The daylight is uncomfortably bright for eyes so long in the dark.

ohiovr
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by ohiovr »

Thanks Hanelyp

I think that is satisfactory. However isn't the distance between galaxys mostly a pretty good vacuum?

krenshala
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by krenshala »

You've still got pretty much the same interstellar medium of (mostly) monotonic hydrogen, even if it is measured in cubic meters per atom, so even in the spaces farthest from "everything", you would get matter/anti-matter reactions (which are by definition, noticeable) around any clump of anti-matter that exists.

Tom Ligon
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Re: Magnetic forces are favored?

Post by Tom Ligon »

I've seen a few vain attempts to try to say that electrostatics, not magnetism, hold galaxies together.

The problem is one of dipoles versus monopoles. Yeah, electrostatic attraction is double-digit orders of magnitude stronger than gravity, but it only attracts when you have opposite polarities. If you have the same polarity, you get repulsion. So you COULD hold a solar system together by having the sun one polarity and the planets the other, but then how do you attract moons to their planets without making the sun repel them? If you had a galaxy or star cluster made this way, the suns would repel each other.

There are electric fields operating in space, though. Just spool a couple of km of wire out in LEO and see what happens.

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