The world of science has moved leaps and bounds since the time our science textbooks clearly established the fact that matter can either be solid, liquid, or gas. Most of the facts stated in our primary resources can now be debated and proved wrong.
Such as the fact that all things in our universe are constantly in motion, and never in the state of rest; Or the fact that smallest element in the universe are atoms (digging deep into which we found electrons, protons, neutrons and now quarks).
So as our understanding of the world isn’t ever in a constant fix, we have been able to alter our understanding of the world around. It is a “matter” of time we explore new properties to existing elements and wonder how much we actually know about the universe.
Super Fluids – Frictionless/Restricted Flow Fluids!
Imagine you’re having your cup of favorite coffee; give it a little swirl and it continues spinning? You then pick the cup up to see coffee spilling from the top rather than the bottom? This can be possible if your cup had helium at a temperature of -270 degrees Celsius. Helium enters into the realm of what scientists call a “superfluid,” which is a frictionless restricted flow fluid, at such low temperatures.
An atom and molecule can change their energy levels, and we know that through quantum mechanics. And the thing with helium is that it can never freeze, which makes it enter into a strange fluid-y state when it’s put at freezing minus temperatures.
Super Solids – Basically a Superfluid that has its Molecules intact!
The Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC at which atoms move reaaallly slow) made of sodium gas, at which laser was directed to cool it to about absolute zero was what it took for the matter to forget its “usual” state. BEC also was superconductive and when scientists kept cooling the sodium down, it formed “on-crystalline sodium,” made friction reduce to 0, and form what is called a Super Solid. Now the coffee that we were talking about, imagine it were a super solid, you won’t be able to drink it that’s for sure. Super Solids constantly break the symmetry of particles at the quantum (smallest) level.
Plasma: The Fourth State of Matter
Now we all know about plasma, except that we actually don’t. Solids interact heavily, liquids partially interact (particles lay close enough to remain in contact), while gases barely interact. When it comes to plasma, it can choose to be anything. Plasma is the most common but least known matter in the universe. Comprising of ions and electrons, plasma is formed when an atom or a molecule gains or loses electrons, bringing about an overall charge (either positive or negative).
Strange Matter: The Most Dangerous Form of Matter
Notoriously known as the most dangerous form of matter in the universe, strange matter is indeed very strange. Just like we talked about quarks, strange matter has to do with quarks moving freely within a setup. Quarks are supported by gluons (keeps them together mostly) which further helps in the creation of subatomic protons and neutrons. However, if we set the temperatures really hot (about 10^12 kelvins) it will lead to the creation of “strange” quarks (quarks that behave abnormally) which results in an unbelievably dense matter called strange matter.
Time has now been officially considered the 4th dimension much before interstellar labeled it, and while we try understanding time, here are time crystals to help turn the whole space-time dimension upside down. Regular crystals (diamonds per se) are atoms in repeated/duplicate patterns, which give these crystals their solid-state whereas time crystals replicate their patterns through space and time. In theory, time crystals can move through energy applied as they are already unstable, breaking the symmetry of time. However, this idea isn’t just in the paper but has been already achieved by students of Maryland and Harvard, who were successful in creating time crystals. This is the first non-equilibrium matter than can move even when it is in its ground state (no energy applied).
There are more iterations of Ice that you can possibly imagine. They aren’t just limited to cubes to cool your soda. Scientists have discovered 19 possible complex arrangements to hydrogen and oxygen molecules, one of them is a form of ice that is Hot and Black! You’ll probably find this ice at high pressures and temperatures of 2,000 kelvins. You cannot probably come across this form of ice on earth but ice giants such as Uranus and Pluto.
These were some really bizarre states in which matter exists. Seems like when they taught us about solids, liquid, and gases, they forgot to mention these states of matter weren’t all there were!