The Etymology of “Matter Plasma” and “Blood Plasma”

plasma-blood-and-star

The term “plasma” is derived from the ancient Greek term “plassein” which means to “shape or mold something”. Plasma related to physics, specifically matter which has had its electrons separated from the rest of its atoms, forcing it to become an ion, more specifically a mixture of free floating electrons and ions, was first identified by British chemist and physicist Sir William Crookes in 1879 using cathode ray tubes. Crookes referred to this discovery initially as “radiant matter” but it became known as “plasma” in 1928 because of American chemist Irving Langmuir. Langmuir was exploring ionized gases, gases which were subjected to strong electrical fields to remove electrons from their orbital shells. Langmuir used the analogy of blood to explain this phenomena, with the ions representative of corpuscles and the remaining gas thought of as clear liquid. Blood is similar to plasma in that it is primarily comprised of 2 components which include its clear liquid and the corpuscles/cells entrapped within this fluid. This clear liquid was named “plasma” by Czech physiologist Johannes Purkinje In 1927. The definition of matter plasma and blood plasma however have absolutely nothing to do with eachother physically, aside from the fact that two different scientists had the idea to use the same term at approximately the same time. It is believed that these two scientists based their name upon the ancient Greek definition of the term “plasma”