# Can you change the state of matter by increasing the speed?

In summary: So the principle of energy conservation would say that it should be in a state of equilibrium, with no change. Consequently, the baseball would stay in a state of solid.In summary, the state of matter can be changed by increasing temperature or by applying pressure. And, all of these, in some way lead to a change in the particles' speed. The speed of the particle decides the state of matter. So, if we were to throw an object at very high speeds, like 50% of the speed of light, the particles' speed will also increase, as they are a part of the solid. This means that, as we reach higher speeds, the state of matter should change, because the speed of particles has changed.
We all know that the state of matter can be changed by increasing temperature or by applying pressure. And, all of these, in some way lead to a change in the particles' speed. The speed of the particle decides the state of matter. So, if we were to throw an object at very high speeds, like 50% of the speed of light, the particles' speed will also increase, as they are a part of the solid. This means that, as we reach higher speeds, the state of matter should change, because the speed of particles has changed. We can also say that it will never be possible for a large solid to attain light-like speeds (Also, solids don't move, they vibrate. But, liquids and gases move. So, this question can probably change to liquid-gas condition, rather than a solid-liquid-gas condition). Can this happen in the real world? If not, please state why. And I am sorry if I made any silly mistakes, I don't know a lot about physics.
Thanks!

The speed of the particle decides the state of matter.
This is only half of the correct statement. In fact, it's the average speed of the particles relative to one another that affects the state of matter. Simply increasing the speed of a block of matter doesn't change that. For example we are doing 20 km/s round the Sun but we don't all boil.

This is, as trurle says, an example of the principle of relativity. If what you say were true then we could just carry a thermometer and use it to measure our speed relative to the absolute state of rest that your line of thinking implies. The world does not work that way.

The speed of the particle decides the state of matter.
This is not correct. It is a fairly common misunderstanding of the concept of thermal energy.

Thermal energy is not specifically about microscopic kinetic energy, it is about energy stored in microscopic internal degrees of freedom. For an ideal monoatomic gas the only internal degree of freedom is the kinetic energy, but that is not true in general. Many substances also have vibrational and other internal modes that put energy in the microscopic equivalent of a spring instead of just KE.

The problem is that people are taught the connection between thermal energy and speed in the context of the ideal gas law. And even though it is clearly specified that the ideal gas law describes only ideal monoatomic gasses, people can’t help but generalize to other substances. Largely because the presentation of other thermal laws is not done from first principles.

Last edited:
So, if we were to throw an object at very high speeds, like 50% of the speed of light, the particles' speed will also increase, as they are a part of the solid. This means that, as we reach higher speeds, the state of matter should change, because the speed of particles has changed.

If I were to throw a baseball at 50% of the speed of light, it would not change state (well, unless I did it within the atmosphere. Then it would change state rather spectacularly, but I digress...)

A state change will happen if the relative speed between molecules changes. The molecules have so much energy that it overwhelms the inter-molecular forces holding them together.

But a baseball moving at .5c doesn't have much velocity difference between its molecules - after all in its reference frame, it is stationary.

## 1. Can increasing the speed of a substance change its state of matter?

Yes, increasing the speed of a substance can change its state of matter. This is known as a phase transition, where a substance changes from one state (solid, liquid, or gas) to another due to changes in temperature or pressure.

## 2. How does increasing the speed affect the state of matter?

Increasing the speed of a substance can cause its particles to move faster and collide with each other more frequently. This increased energy can overcome the intermolecular forces holding the particles together, resulting in a change of state.

## 3. Can any substance change its state of matter by increasing its speed?

No, not all substances can change their state of matter by increasing their speed. This depends on the strength of the intermolecular forces in the substance and the temperature and pressure at which it is being changed.

## 4. Is there a limit to how much the speed can change the state of matter?

Yes, there is a limit to how much the speed can change the state of matter. This is because each substance has a specific set of conditions (temperature and pressure) at which it can exist in each state, and exceeding these conditions may result in a chemical reaction rather than a phase transition.

## 5. Can changing the speed of a substance reverse its state of matter?

Yes, changing the speed of a substance can reverse its state of matter. This is known as a reverse phase transition, where a substance changes from one state to another and then back again as its temperature or pressure is altered.

• Mechanics
Replies
24
Views
2K
• Mechanics
Replies
9
Views
1K
• Special and General Relativity
Replies
12
Views
2K
• Mechanics
Replies
3
Views
2K
• Mechanics
Replies
1
Views
3K
• Other Physics Topics
Replies
1
Views
4K
• Mechanics
Replies
4
Views
3K
• Mechanics
Replies
3
Views
1K
• Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
1
Views
1K
• Classical Physics
Replies
18
Views
2K