ELI5. I’m a kid and have a few questions about plasma

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4 questions

1. Can a plasma be cooled down to a gas

2. Is lightning a plasma

3. If the first and second question answers are yes, what is lightning as a gas?

4. Can lightning go up then down in a curve? A bit like a rainbow

In: Physics

1) yes. It’s basically gas that’s all ionized.

2) often, the center is.

3) same thing as our atmosphere—~78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% argon, and a small percentage of other stuff.

4) not usually, but two caveats—since it kind of follows the path of least resistance, it can go down, then back up, then down again before striking. Also, if it’s a cloud to cloud strike, it can look like its curved, because the sky is curved.

1. Plasma is not my specialty, so I’ll let someone else explain about it.
2. No. Lightning is electricity. Whenever you get a shock from touching a door knob or a piece of metal, that’s essentially what lightning is, just much much smaller.
3. Lightning is not a gas. It’s electricity.
4. Yes, lightning can form an arc, but very rarely. Lightning, like electricity, likes to travel in the shortest possible path. This ends up being a straight line. However, some other factors can influence its path and create arcs like a rainbow. Most of the time though, these factors give lightning its jagged frayed appearance. If you want to see some arched lightning, look up a Jacob’s ladder on YouTube or Google. If you build your own Jacob’s ladder, please do so while supervised by an adult and a licensed electrician.

The only basic difference between a ‘gas’ and a plasma is that in one the particles are neutral, in other, they are ionized. That’s all. It’s kind of like ionic bonded and covalent bonded solid. Or a metal and a non-metal.