Students given online keys to 27,000 degree plasma rig
A new project gives any student or teacher with an internet connection remote access to real a physics lab, and all the scientific discoveries they hold.
Online courses are helping people from all walks of life to learn any skill they desire - from insect husbandry to superconductor maintenance – but now the cornucopia of courseware has been expanded.
Online physics classes from the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are enabling students to interact with a real physical experiment.
While other excellent online sites like have developed virtual labs to simulate real life environments, experts say there is no substitute for actual live experiments.
With the PPPL site, users can operate the experiment with a set of controls, shown on-screen, and observe the effect on an apparatus at PPPL using a live web stream video.
Currently the “Remote Glow Discharge Experiment (RGDX)”, consists of a hollow glass tube of air, held under vacuum. Supplying a voltage of up to 2000 volts generates a glow discharge within.
Users can control the pressure inside the tube, the voltage supplied to the plasma and the strength of an electromagnet surrounding the tube.
Students are guided through steps to gradually increase their level of engagement and introduce them to new concepts and idea in physics.
Further explanations for the voltages, pressures and magnets are accessible, if the user wants to dig a bit deeper.
PPPL has put up the following video;