View Full Version : The 4? States of Matter

2003-Sep-25, 10:30 PM
Ok, so most people know that there are 4 states of matter- gas, solid, liquid, and plasmas, but what exactly are the molecules\particles in plasma? In a gas they all move freely about. In a solid they're all stuck together. In a liquid, they're sort of attached, but can take any shape. What defines plasmas?
And, has there been any new "forms" of matter discovered recently?

2003-Sep-26, 04:59 AM
A plasma is a gas where the particles are electrically charged (ionized). They tend to be rather hot too, but I don't think that's a rule.

The Bose-Einstein condensate is relatively new, but I'm not sure if it counts as a new state. Seems like it should though.

Some liquids can become superfluids, but again I'm not sure if that counts as another phase state.

Try googling for chemistry sites, you'll probably find plenty of info.

2003-Sep-26, 07:39 PM
Yes, a plasma is where the atoms are at such a high energy state that they have become partially or completely disassociated from their electrons. The signifigance being that at that state you don't have enough stable electrons to cause chemical interactions. It is all physics, and no chemistry at that point. As such, you can only have atoms, and not molecules. Also, because of the ionization, it is inherently suseptible to electric and magnetic fields.

Like anything, it is a matter of degree. Fire is below the low end of plasmas. You have some ionizatoin and free electrons, but it is still cool enough to have molecules and chemistry. It is almost there, but you can't bend a fire with a magnet (too bad, would make campfires fun).

2003-Sep-26, 08:15 PM

2003-Sep-26, 10:32 PM
Hi there,

Plasma is the most important state of matter in the Universe, 99.99 % of all matter is plasma!
Strange that plasma physics is not very well known or understood. There are some websites that can tell you all about its importance and even give new insights in how the Universe works:
and an introduction the Plasma Cosmology at http://www.electric-cosmos.org


2003-Sep-28, 07:16 PM
For a bit more info, I was reading a book with a question such as this. I quote:

I know the states of matter are gas, liquid, solid, and plasma, but is there anything else?
Yes! So few people know about it that it isn't really called a phase yet. It is called CLUSTERS. Clusters of matter can exist, usually is space.

I hope that can shed light on a few more things.

2003-Oct-17, 05:44 AM
What about foam? and Gels? and particulates like sand/flour/grains with grains of varying sizes? Are crystals Just solids? or do they have their own branch of solid solids?

2003-Oct-17, 09:18 AM
Some substances are solids suspended in a liquid. Foam is bubbles of air (gas) in a liquid. Sand etc. are just solids plain and simple (sand of course being particles of a crystal).

2003-Oct-17, 09:50 AM
Crystals are a solid.

Many viscous liquids seem to be solids because of their extreme viscosity, but upon further X-Ray examination, it has been found that there are distinct differences between a very viscous liquid and a solid.

2003-Oct-20, 04:21 AM
Thanks :)
I somtimes wonder if the periodic table of elements is pinned to our position in the solar sytem, ie lighter gravity, say on mars would lend a difference to the structure of solids, bit this would have been clarified with the return of the lunar samples, then I wonder, in the physics of Jupiter, liquid Hydrogen and the like, what happens in neutron stars? do we have new combinations of elements and Isotopes stacking on to the point of strata within black holes, pulsars and neutron stars? I've seen new elements added and then subtracted from the table of elements, Whats Going On There? :huh:

2003-Oct-20, 05:12 AM
There are some elements with atomic no.'s in the 110 range that have been created in laboratories, but they are so unstable that they only exist for a small fraction of a second. Some periodic tables omit these elements. Maybe that is what you are referring to I don't know.

I've heard that theoretically after 130 of (atomic number), nuclei might start to become stable again as a particular subshell is filled. Does anybody know anything about this?

kid that needs help
2003-Oct-23, 08:50 PM
so wut is an example of a plasma ? ;)

2003-Oct-23, 09:16 PM
Hi kid,

One spectacular example is the Aurora, or Northern Lights. Another is example is almost everything on and above the surface of the sun, also the solar wind. Neon lights are also plasma's, actually apart from a few moons and the rocky crusts of some planets, everything is plasma.

More details on where the rest of the plasma is (99.99% of the universe is in the plasma state), can be found at http://public.lanl.gov/alp/plasma/universe.html
I think that if we can really understand the behaviour of plasma, it will change our ideas on how the Universe works.



2003-Nov-11, 07:59 PM
Hi there,

All that is needed to explain what is happening on the Sun's surface is electricity/magnetism, just look at this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3260985.stm
More laboratory experiments can be found at the link in the previous post.


2003-Nov-12, 08:55 AM
I've heard that theoretically after 130 of (atomic number), nuclei might start to become stable again as a particular subshell is filled. Does anybody know anything about this?

It is hoped that we will find a super heavy, stable element further up. Currently we have got up to element 116, what might we find further up?