The Background is a tiling of a reduced-contrast version of the image below. It consists
of eight Equations, of which five are Differential Equations, two are Algebraic Equations,
and one (the bottom Equation) is a Result that naturally and automatically pops out of
four of the five Differential Equations. A theoretical Space Physicist, Astrophysicist,
or Plasma Physicist will recognize the significance of this combination: They are the
foundational set of Equations of classical **Plasma Physics**.

Plasma Physics (which is synonomous with **Plasma
Engineering**) is the study of matter in the plasma state. The so-called fourth
state of Matter, a Plasma is basically an ionized Gas in combination with **Free Electrons**,
where the source of those Electrons are the Atoms/Molecules of that Gas that have had
one or more of their outer Electrons striped away. The resulting soup is a set of
interpenetrating Fluids of Free Electrons and the left-over **Ions**. Since Electrons
and Ions are electrically charged Particles, they create and are influenced by Electric
and Magnetic Fields. The Equations prescribe the behavior of those Fluids as
they interact with the **Electromagnetic Fields**. The reason why Space Physicists and
Astrophysicists are interested in Plasmas arises from the observation that more than
99% of all the observable Matter in the Universe exists in the Plasma state (that
includes interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic Space, in addition to Stars).

This set of Equations was selected for the background to establish the perspective that
all that we are (as members and participants in the **Universe**) and can observe
(of that Universe) is by virtue of electromagnetic phenomena. **Electromagnetism** is
running all the time in the background of the Universe at all temporal and spatial
Scales. The Speed of Light is placed at the vertex of the Triangle and at the bottom
since it is the ultimate speed limit and ties together all things electromagnetic.
Of course, on the truly cosmological scale, **Gravity** is the final arbiter,
as moderated by **Quantum Mechanics**.

For those of you who are die-hards, the following is a more detailed but very brief description
of the Equations. Alright, all in one sentence: The equation set consists of the **Boltzmann
Equation** [top line], which controls the time evolution of the **Particle Distribution Functions
f_{n}** for each separate

Whew! The study of Plasma Physics requires first a year's worth of study of **Electromagnetic
Fields and Waves** (as a Junior or Senior), and an introduction to the theory of
**Fluid Mechanics**, which is frequently combined with the introductory courses in
Plasma Physics.

*This natural result marks the first time in the history of Science that a theoretical
prediction came first and the experimental verification came second. As **James Clerk
Maxwell** constructed what is now known as modern **Electromagnetic Theory** in the 1860's
from what was experimentally known up to that time about Electric and Magnetic Fields,
there had been no suspicion that Electric and Magnetic Fields had *anything* to
do with Light. Maxwell intended simply to put all the collective (experimental)
knowledge about such Fields on a solid mathematical basis. (He invented **Vector
Calculus** and its notation as part of that effort.) One unexpected conclusion
that arose from his mathematical theory was the existence of electric waves
coupled with magnetic waves. These coupled ** Electromagnetic Waves**
are required to propagate at a very specific Velocity, equal to the inverse
of the square root of the product of the Permitivity

**James Clerk** (the *e* in *Clerk* is pronounced as a *long a*, as in the word
*care*) **Maxwell** ranks with **Isaac Newton** and **Albert Einstein** as one the best,
brightest, and most influential Physicists of the past 450 years. Einstein constructed
his **Special Theory of Relativity** from Maxwell's Electromagnetic Theory: Special
Relativity is in fact buried in its entirety inside Maxwell's theory.

© 2002 Stevens F. Johnson and Dept. of Physics/Science, Bemidji State University.
All rights are reserved unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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