On 8/4/2017 5:23 PM, Helmut Raulien wrote:
Something is either a gas, a liquid, or a solid, and you cannot
tell which one, by just looking at the chemical composition.
That is, because additional information is needed
Actually, there are many "strange states" of matter, for which that
three-way distinction is extremely oversimplified.
Crystals, for example, are the prime example of solids. Glasses appear
to be solids at normal temperatures (i.e., normal for the surface of
the earth). But over long periods of time, they flow like liquids.
Water is the most familiar liquid, but it's also the strangest.
The H2O molecule is lighter than most gases, yet it tends to be
liquid because of attractions of H atoms to O atoms in neighboring
atoms in the liquid. As a result, clusters of H2O atoms behave
like larger molecules.
That property causes water to require an unusually large amount of
heat to cause it to boil, and it also causes it to expand when it
Then there are strange things like superfluids at extremely low
temperatures and plasmas at extremely high temperatures. In the
early universe, there was nothing but plasma. In stars, it's
the region of nuclear fusion that generates the light and heat.
There are also strange behaviors at surfaces between solids,
liquids, and gases. For a short book on the complex interactions
at surfaces, see the lectures by a hysicist who won a Nobel prize
for such studies:
Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1997) _Soft Interfaces_, Cambridge UP.
Finally, there are the strange forms of matter in living things.
There are very large molecules that behave and interact in far
more complex ways than any molecules in nonliving things.
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