OK, I am in some kind of comments war in Youtube where people have all kinds of crazy hypotheses about why the Navy railgun projectile tests have so much flaming hot air around the projectile when it is first launched.
I have been asserting that these flames are a plasma formed by compression heating of the air in front of the projectile. Dump a lot fof kenetic energy into the air, molecules are compressed because they don’t have time to be pushed aside, compression generates heat, and the railgun is so badass that it generates so much heat that the air is ripped apart into a plasma. I used the example of how a bicycle pump becomes warm to give an everyday example of compression heating. I pointed out that compression heating is why returning spacecraft get hot and also why meteors glow.
But AARGH! Some people say it’s friction. And I can see why. I always heard this friction with the air nonsense, and kinda believed it until I learned the truth. The SR-71 gets hot from COMPRESSION, not friction. The Shuttles got hot from compression, and so do meteors. And I think the glowing fire behind the railgun projectile is compression too. As I did research I learned that they actually do demonstrations of heating by friction in elementary school and tell kids that this is also why meteors get hot. Why do they do this when we know it’s compression?
And some folks actually think that meteors and the railgun projectile are actually ON FIRE! Yep, burning by combining with oxygen and that no flame-like phenomena could appear without combustion.
Please, SDMB, confirm to me I am not full of shit by asserting the Navy railgun is awesome enough to rip the air into plasma by compression alone.