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Introduction

States?

Introduction

Introduction

Now that you are familiar with the fundamental concept of matter, let's move into the different forms that it can take.

So, how many states are there? Well, we're glad you asked. According to our data, there are four basic states of ordinary matter: solid, liquid, gas, plasma. Three of these forms, solid, liquid, and gas, appear all around us; we can see them everyday. The last, plasma, is rarely encountered in nature here on Earth.

 A solid is defined as matter with a definite shape and a definite volume. A solid can be made of many of the same atoms, or a mixture of atoms. This state of matter can have two variations: Crystalline or Amorphous. A Crystalline solid is matter (with a definite shape and volume) that is composed of particles arranged in a repeating pattern. Conversely, the atoms in an Amorphous solid are arranged in no particular pattern.

 A liquid is defined as matter that takes the shape of its container. It has a definite volume, but not a definite shape. Every solid has a magic temperature known as the melting point. When a solid reaches its melting point, it transforms into a liquid.

 A gas is defined as matter that has no definite shape nor a definite volume. It can, therefore, fill a container of any size or shape. Solids have atoms and molecules that are really compact. Liquids have them a little more spread out. But gases--Whoa Nelly!--are really extremely superly spread out and the atoms and molecules are full of energy, causing them to bounce around constantly. All liquids have a point in which the heat transfer to the liquid gives the atoms enough energy to become a gas--the evaporation point.

 Here we are at plasma--the odd ball out. Up 'til this point, most of us have only reviewed what we already knew. Well, this is where things begin to get weird. Plasma is a gas-like mixture of positively and negatively charged particles. The atoms of plasma are different because they are made of free electrons and ions of the element. Say there is a gas, and from somewhere a huge amount of energy enters the gas. This energy causes the neutral atoms to rip apart into positively and negatively charged atoms and free electrons. The electrons are removed from the neutral atoms, leaving ions and electrons in a goofy, glowing, gaseous ball.