Eli5 What is Plasma?



I can’t grasp the concept of it. And why and how is harnessing it from our bodies help cure diseases?

In: Physics

Plasma is ionized gas. It’s basically gas that has had so much energy added into (usually by heating) that electrons escaped the nucleus. So now you have a bunch of charged particles zooming around.

Blood plasma is part of the liquid that compose your blood. It’s the liquid part that carries all your blood cells, etc. If you lose blood, getting an infusion of plasma helps

Since you tagged the post as “Physics”, i think the issue is you are mixing up *plasma*, as the state of matter, and *blood plasma*, as in blood which have been centrifuged to remove the blood cells.

The latter is often abberviated to plasma, which causes much confusion.

Not the same kind of plasma. One type is a super heated gas where some kind of magic happens to the atoms (I think it has to do with electrons having enough energy to move around more freely but I really do not understand it that far). The other kind (the one inside of you) is basically the liquid that makes up your blood once you remove the solids.

In your blood you have red blood cells (carry oxygen) platelets (construction workers that repairs damage and prevents you from bleeding out) and white blood cells (kills the bad guys in your body). If you take out all that junk you are left with a liquid thats salty and that contains a bunch of good stuff for you. This is plasma.

The two are different things.

Plasma is the 4th state of matter. It is basically ionized gas. It is difficult to picture it at first but its actually the most common state of matter in the universe. Think about nebulae, supernovas, stars, that kind of stuff.

Blood plasma is simply the liquid (made of water and proteins mostly) in which your blood cells are traveling on. If you place blood on a machine called a centrifuge you will be able to see all the different components of blood. Plasma has a light yellow color.

Solids, liquids, and gases are all different structures of molecules (collections of atoms) in a given space. The way they behave or fill that space is different depending on the state they’re in. The molecules in solids stay put; liquids fill a space but remain more together than gases; gases don’t really stay together. For each state of matter the bonds between atoms are weaker than the last. Also, the more heat you apply to something the weaker those bonds become and therefore with many materials the hotter it is the more it goes from solid to liquids, and so on. The component parts of the atoms that make up the molecules don’t change in these states of matter.

With plasma, the components of those atoms also stray from their nucleus. The heat it takes for this will also mean the state of the matter up until ionisation is gaseous.

Medical plasma (not to be confused with physics plasma) is the carrier fluid in the blood. Blood cells can not travel on their own through the blood vessels.

Plasma replenishes itself quickly so humans can donate much more frequently than donating whole blood. Plasma is used in cases such as sever burns where the body is producing enough blood cells, but the fluid is being lost through the burned tissue.

The Plasma, besides being about 70% water, also carries an assortment of chemicals, proteins, fats and hormones.

When the doctor orders blood chemistry tests, it is the plasma that they separate out from the blood and tun the tests on. Whole blood is tested for things like cell counts of white cells (indicating an infection) red blood cells, haemoglobin, and complete blood count to compare the number of cells to each other.

There are two types of plasma. One is a state of matter and the other is a mix of water and protein that can be separated from blood. They have nothing to do with each other in any way.

The physics plasma is a gas that has had its electrons liberated by either high heat or strong magnetic fields. This makes the plasma sensitive to magnetic and electric fields. This is why it conducts electricity so well.

The blood plasma is separated form the other components of blood by spinning it really fast in what is called a centrifuge. This plasma contains immune proteins, water, and a few other components for clotting and things like that. The plasma can be refined further to make medicine or used intact to treat trauma patients. It is particularly valuable for this as your blood type doesn’t matter in regard for if you can get this plasma sample or that one. The reason being is the “flags” that your immune system looks for is on the cells that had already been removed when the plasma was taken.