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In conclusion, the idea of a slowly moving self-contained plasmoidweapon simply doesn't make any sense. Your "bolt" isconstantly trying to blow itself apart on the way to the target, youmust invent some kind of ridiculously strong yet easy-to-runcontainment field to make it hold together (thus raising obviousquestions about why this super containment technology is not used toeffortlessly protect these bolts), and when it finallydoes hit the target and the mythical "containment field"shatters, the barely-contained ions within will promptly scatter inall directions, thus wasting the majority of their energy bydissipating harmlessly into space. Even those ions that strike the surface of the target will achieve poor penetration; mostof their kinetic energy is randomized rather than being directedforward, and the gas cloud lacks the characteristics which wouldallow it to push through solid armour rather than simply heating itssurface. And after all that, the plasmoid won't move in a straightline the way they're invariably shown in sci-fi; it should arcdownward in gravity, just like the 30mm auto-cannon shots from theRussian BTR-80/A in clip.

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However, this method does not gracefully handle errors in visual effects. Given a shot which makes the Defiant appear to be half its normal size (for example) and which cannot be rationalized away, we must decide whether it is an "error" on the part of our imaginary documentary cameraman. Normally, this decision is made by looking at the bulk of the evidence (similar to what scientists do with highly anomalous data points in a real experiment, where the errant point is assumed to be the result of procedural or equipment error unless it is consistently repeated).

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All right, so why don't we just confine the plasma? Well ofcourse, there's the obvious objection that a blob of plasma will notconfine itself, so you'd have to create some kind of magicalcontainment field which moves with the bolt and requires notechnological apparatus to sustain itself. But it gets worse. Let'ssay we're talking about a 1 metre long bolt with a diameter of ½cm, and a yield of 1 MJ (equivalent to roughly 4 ounces of TNT).Let's say it's 1 keV plasma (roughly 8 million K); you would need6.24E21 ions, ie- less than 0.01 grams of hydrogen plasma. Smallproblem: air would be many times denser then this plasma, so the boltwould tend to fly because of buoyancy, and it would needsome kind of propulsion system to drive it through air because itcertainly isn't going to coast through atmospheric resistance on itsminiscule momentum. Both of these problems can be alleviated throughsheer particle velocity (a sufficiently hypersonic projectile willhave enough momentum to mitigate buoyancy effects and extend itsrange). But since that would be more of a particle beam than a sci-fimoving-blob "plasma weapon", it is not applicable here. Inshort, a typical subsonic or marginally supersonic sci-fi moving-blobplasma blast would require a magical self-contained containmentfield, and it would float up into the air even if it holdtogether.

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Poorly suited to thematic analysis, dissection of social messages, etc. Historians try to figure out what happened and scientists try to figure out how things work. Neither is out to assign higher meaning to anything, so their methods are simply not geared to doing so.

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laws of physics apply unless it is absolutelyimpossible to rationalize events with them. Remember that in reallife, if we saw an antigravity vessel, we would try to generatescientific theories which explain this new phenomenon . We would say "hmmm, I guess none of the laws of physics apply any more"and start over from scratch. Instead, we would do something like thefollowing:

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Indeed, so-called "plasma weapons" in sci-fi generallyfire visible "bolts" which move far, far slower than theparticles of a hot plasma would move. For example, a typicalhand-held "plasma weapon" in sci-fi will fire a bolt thatmoves at 1 km/s at the most, or may even be subsonic, yet even arelatively "cold" 1 eV plasma will have an average (rootmean squared) particle velocity of 13.8 km/s for nuclei and 593 km/sfor electrons (assuming even energy distribution). This is a majorimpediment to their effectiveness and an incomprehensible "feature";why would one even a plasma weapon where the particlevelocities are all randomized in a slow-moving confined blob, ratherthan being directed forward at great velocity as they would be in aparticle beam? Such a weapon would be far less penetrative by itsnature, hence far less efficient even if it works.