Okay, I have to be honest. The first thought I had when I saw this article called, “Bring a 50,000-Degree Plasma Into Your Living Room” on Science Daily was, well, “When have I ever wanted to do that…?!”
But, well, this is actually pretty cool.
With the rise of online open course platforms such as Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare and iTunes U, remote users can do things with online courses like operate a plasma experiment with a set of controls and watch the effect on the apparatus at PPPL using the web stream video. Sounds like the kind of online lab Ms. Smith would be all about!
Courses like these allow students to advance at their own pace while accessing the limitless supplemental material available on the internet. Now it’s easy for anyone with an Internet connection to learn anything from American history to semiconductor manufacturing from the comfort of their desktop computer!
Specifically, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has developed software for an experiment that can be observed and controlled from anywhere in the world. The article writes;
This “Remote Glow Discharge Experiment (RGDX)” consists of three main components:
- A live-streaming video that constantly observes an experimental apparatus housed at PPPL.
- A set of online controls.
- Information that explains what the user observes and controls, plus more in-depth resources that explore plasma and its uses.
I definitely have to go try this. It’s almost as cool as those websites where you can control robotic toys and play with cats on webcam from some remote location. Cats are a bit cuter than plasma, but, well, learning about science is cool too.