THE FOUR STATES OF MATTER
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© March 2021, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
This is the first article in the physics series of articles. This article introduces a basic physics concept – the four states of matter. These are solid, liquid, gas and plasma.
1. All chemical compounds can exist in at least four states. Most people are familiar with three of them – solids, liquids and gases. The fourth state, plasma, is not understood as well, but is very important.
2. All life forms, including ourselves, require all four states of matter for nourishment. For example, human beings need solid food, water, air and warmth or plasma.
Let us look at each state of matter in more detail.
1. SOLID MATTER
Most dense, compact and hard. Solid matter is the most dense and compact form of matter. As a rule, it is hard to the touch.
Tends to occur at the lowest temperatures. Solid matter exists at the lowest temperature of the four states of matter. Lowering the temperature slows down the movement of the atoms.
Tends to occur at the highest atmospheric pressure. Raising the air pressure has the same effect as lowering the temperature. It slows down the movement of the atoms.
Slowest moving atoms. Solid matter is hard because the atoms inside the chemical compound are moving the slowest in this form of matter.
Example: Ice is the solid form of water. It is hard, it exists at low temperatures, and its atoms move the slowest of all the forms of water.
2. LIQUID MATTER
Medium density and compactness. Liquids are less dense than solids, but more dense than gases and plasmas.
Tend to occur at somewhat higher temperatures. Their temperatures are higher than solids, in general, but lower than gases and plasmas.
Tend to occur at somewhat lower pressures than solids. Lowering the air pressure helps liquefy solids.
The atoms move somewhat faster. The atoms are moving faster than in solids, but not as fast as in gases and plasma states.
Example. Liquid water is the liquid state of H2O. it is the state of this chemical compound (H2O) that exists at room temperature.
Still less dense and less compact than solids and liquides. This state of matter is less dense than solids or liquids, but more dense than plasma.
It exists at higher temperatures or lower pressures.
Atoms move faster. The atoms in a gas move faster than in solids and liquids, but not as fast as in plasmas.
Example. Steam is the gaseous form of H2O. To make it, one has to increase the temperature of water or ice. One can also make it by decreasing the air pressure. This occurs in clouds and a high altitudes.
For example, water will boil at a lower temperature if you are living high up in the mountains. It is just easier to make steam here because the air pressure is lower.
Least dense and least compact. Plasma is the least dense form of matter.
Exists at the highest temperatures or the lowest pressure. Plasma occurs at the highest temperature, such as in an atomic bomb blast.
It also occurs at the lowest pressure. For example, outer space has very little air pressure. Space is almost a vacuum, which means no pressure. Plasma is common in outer space, even though the temperature is cold.
The atoms move about the fastest. Atoms move at the fastest speed in a plasma.
Examples. Plasmas, if they can be seen, often look like light. Examples are: the glow of fluorescent and neon light bulbs (when turned on), lightning, the sun and other stars, the fireball of an atomic bomb blast, the Northern lights or aurora borealis, and the tail of a comet.
Ether. What is called ether is also a plasma form of matter. It is made of certain chemical compounds that happen to be in a plasma state at room temperature and room air pressure.
Ether cannot be seen, but is found in our food, water, and air. Proper cooking enhances it in our food, which is one reason why cooking most food is recommended in nutritional balancing science.
An article about ether is the next article in the Physics Series on this website.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Does every chemical compound in existence have four possible states of matter? Yes. Scientists know this. they can make liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen, liquid nitrogen, and all sorts of other chemicals just by changing the temperature and/or the atmospheric pressure of a chemical compound.
Can our bodies exist in different states of matter? No! We die if our blood boils, for example. We die if we get too cold. So our bodies are made only for this planet, or a similar one with the same temperature and atmospheric pressure.
This is why astronauts must wear a “space suit” to walk around in outer space or on the moon. It is also why divers must stay inside a submarine that is pressurized properly if they go very deep in the ocean. Otherwise, the cold temperature and the high pressure would easily kill them.
Why are some chemicals like butter fat solid at room temperature, while others like water and olive oil are liquids? This just has to do with their chemical structure. The exact reasons could be different in each case. Animal fats, for example, have double chemical bonds that make them hard at room temperature. Oils do not have these, so they tend to be liquid at room temperature.
THE NEXT ARTICLE IN THE PHYSICS SERIES TO READ IS THE ETHER.