Watch This Plasma Ring Float in Open Air

The plasma ring was created using a stream of water that was less than the width of a human hair and moving as fast as a bullet.

By Daniel Oberhaus | MOTHERBOARD

Plasma sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but you probably encounter the fourth state of matter on a daily basis. Any time you see a neon sign, a fluorescent lightbulb, a flash of lightning, or stare at the sun to feed on its energy, you’re encountering plasma in all its glory.

Plasma is technically an ionized gas, which means that it has a number of properties that make it behave like a cohesive unit, such as being able to conduct electricity and interact with magnetic fields. Plasma is super useful stuff, but it comes with a major downside: like a regular gas, it can be tough to harness without a special container. For human applications, such as a fusion reactor, plasma is usually contained using electromagnetic fields that force the plasma into a desired shape.

But now a team of physicists at Caltech have managed to create a plasma ring in the open air for the first time.

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